Back on the roach trail (Entry 25)

As I am writing this I’m in fear that come the new year the UK might become lost under water. The rainfall we have been having is unbelievable, and although the only problem its causing me is making the decision of where to go fishing a lot harder, for others its having a devastating effect with many people losing their homes and possessions. So with all of this in mind I counted my blessings and was grateful for this weeks session after roach. Still raining however I could only access a few pegs as the water level had rose over the bank. In fact its happened on a fair few club waters, and many of them have been closed off until the water level drops.


The venue I had chosen is only small in surface area, maybe enough room for eight or nine anglers. It is very deep though, 8-10 feet being average so there’s a lot of water. The bottom is not uniform and undulates a lot so careful plumbing up is required to enable you to get the best from your peg. It’s also a moody water but contains a good head of roach and bream to the pound mark, some very big perch indeed over 3lb, as well as some summer species like tench, crucians and wild carp, which although small really fight hard. I was here for the roach though, it was Christmas eve and I had managed to get away from the preparation for a few hours fishing punch and liquidised bread to see if I could tempt any of its resident roach. In all truth I wasn’t bothered by the size of the fish, the conditions were dire, and although a thaw is a good time for roach, in deep water I believe a temperature change takes a little longer to take effect. Great when the water is cooling, but not so the other way round.

Heavy rain and a pole float

The swim I had chosen was around eight foot deep at around 5 metres from the bank. I was happy enough with this and didnt see the point in going any further. If I had have been sitting it out for the bigger roach I would definitely have fished further from the bank and would have changed methods, but for today the pole would be my only weapon of choice. I fed a walnut sized ball of liquidised bread and fine tuned my rig so that just 5-8mm of tip was showing. I started fishing with a 4mm punch of bread roughly an inch off the bottom. I will change the depth a lot when fishing punch bread in order to find the ‘sweet spot’ that the fish are feeding at.

Have a good selection of different sized bread punchesI also think its vitally important to vary the size of the punch so its a really good idea to invest in a good set that will not only allow you to do this, but last you years if looked after. Todays session however was proving to be a tough one. After two hours and a lot of different options tried, it was time to plumb up a swim a bit further out as the fish were not in my first swim. I fed a little less bread this time, but still the fish showed no signs of feeding. Not a touch. I didn’t see a fish top or move anywhere on the pit. Still it beat the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation.

This little 2oz roach saved me from a blankAt last! A move back my my initial swim on a 7mm punch I got my first and only bite of the session. A scale and fin perfect roach was my reward for sticking it out. It was a welcome fish although I must have caught thousands over the years it It's not just the rivers that are bursting their banksprevented a certain blank. Not that I am bothered about blanking by the way. Each fish-less session is only helping you work the water out. So what did I take away from this session? Well, I would most certainly try a natural bait approach next time, maggots or casters, maybe even chopped worm. Maybe a less static bait would tempt the pits residents more readily. I may have simply not been in the right area. Even on small venues the fish will shoal up very tightly when the conditions are very cold. Only a week ago this venue was covered in ice a half inch tick. I only know that I am already looking forward to my next session on here. Although realistically I probably wont be back here until the late winter early spring when I will see if I can tempt one of its big perch, before I turn my attention to a cheshire mere in the hope of landing a truly huge tench. Anyway, that’s a long way off and there’s plenty more fishing to be done between now and then.

Until next time,



Once it thaws it’s time for roach (Entry 24)

Having not been out for the last two weeks due to things getting in the way, it was good to be back out on the bank. Even so, with my local rivers rising full of cold rain and the majority of still waters still covered or part covered with ice, my options of where to spend a few hours were limited.

My initial idea was to fish a stretch of canal I’m convinced contains some fairly big roach. But not knowing the venue too well I decided instead to head back to a place a fished a few weeks ago for its roach. I was pretty sure the venue would not be fully iced over. Its a windy venue and gets the sun all day, however weak. I was sure it would be fishable. As I arrived, I tentatively peered over the hedge, eager to see if my hunch was right. Thankfully, it was, just a  small quarter of ice remained. I unloaded the car and headed for the swim pictured.

The SwimThe island was roughly 13 metres away so I decided to fish on two lines. Obviously the island is a great feature to fish to but I also wanted to fish a shorter line just incase the already brisk wind picked up and made it hard to hold the pole. Both swims offered the same depth so only one rig was needed. A slim bodied, glass tipped pole float set up in a similar way to my last visit. If you didn’t read it you can here. I fed both lines with a little Sensas roach groundbait with a pinch of caster and chopped worm. The colour had dropped out of the water dramatically since my last visit so I started with a single caster on the longer line, thinking that the fish would have backed off because of this. Here lay my first error of the day but I will go into that a little later.

Gratefully recieved - the first fish of the sessionI caught my first fish after about 20 minutes. A small 1oz roach, or should that be a small 1oz, silver icicle? The fish were absolutely freezing. I was surprised they were feeding at all but they were. I started to string together a few fish, getting a bite on every cast. Some resulted in small 1oz roach others a strike into thin air. I deduced that this was because of small fish and was the reason I was missing bites was because they were simply running with the caster half in their mouths and not fully taking it. Nipped casters supported this theory further.

This was the better stamp of roach from the near lineAfter about 15 of these small fish I decided to have a look on the shorter line. First put in produced a chunkier roach around the 3-4oz mark. As did the second cast, and for the next hour I caught a better stamp of fish from the closer line at about six metres. Although the fish were not big, in the cold, blustery conditions I was as happy as could be. I really enjoyed the few hours I spent fishing for these shy biting, but obliging fish. I had perhaps 30-40 fish in three hours and in any ones book that is good winter sport.

So the error I made reference to earlier? Well thinking the fish had backed off, or had moved away from the bank due to the water clarity  I decided to fish at 13 metres. Good theory. But when that 13 metres happened to put my rig within a foot of the bank of the island it turns out to be not such a good idea. Sometimes when you’re on the bank you cant see the wood for the trees. Oh, and has anybody seen a roach with orange markings before? Let me know if you have.

A strangely coloured roachLeave a comment or follow this blog if you have enjoyed the article.

Until next time,


When the rivers in flood, it’s roach to the rescue (Entry 23)

The gentle wind broke the otherwise flat calm surface as I watched a finely shot float. The same wind also carried the unmistakable aroma of aniseed. This week, with the rivers well and truly flooded, and still rising, I had decided to have an impromptu session after roach using one of the most successful bait combinations of all time. Caster and hemp. It will catch numerous species of fish, carp love them, tench and bream will happily graze over large beds of them and when it comes to roach, caster and hemp, flavored with a little aniseed, will more often than not sort them out.

I headed for a water I have fished only few times during the summer just passed when I was targeting its crucians. During those sessions I saw numerous decent sized roach surfacing as the light levels dropped and I thought about trying for them once the weather turned cooler. I arrived at the water at noon and planned on fishing until dusk. Only a few hours but with the sun already warming the water I felt confident of putting a few fish on the bank. As I have already mentioned I brought with me half a pint of freshly turned casters and the same of aniseed flavored hemp. My plan was to fish two lines with a very delicate pole rig, alternating between the two to see which produced the better stamp of fish. One line was fished about a metre past the near shelf at roughly eight metres and the second line at 13 metres towards the island where, interestingly, the water was even deeper, only by six inches though so I could use one rig to cover both situations. The rig itself was a 0.2g glass tipped float I make myself. Its slim body also offers less resistance to biting fish. The mainline used was 0.11mm (3.6lb) and the hooklength being 0.09mm (2.1lb) to which was tied a size 18 Drennan Maggot hook. This size of hook has a fairly fine wire gauge, and allows me to fish both a single caster with the hook buried and also, should the need arise, a double caster. Shotting pattern for the float is also very simple, simply a string of number 10 shot to allow the bait to fall as natural as possible. This allows you to spot any fish intercepting the bait as it falls to the bottom. In a swim with a good four or five foot of depth the fish can often be found off the bottom so learning to watch and react to how your rig settles can often catch you more or sometimes bigger fish. I plumbed up to fish three inches on the bottom. Initial feeding on both lines was a pinch of hemp and roughly 10-12 casters. I would re-feed the same amount every 15 minutes depending on the activity. First put in resulted in a small 2oz roach to single caster. A good start, at least there was some fish in the swim.

In the next ten minutes I caught another 2-3oz roach every minute. Consistent sport for sure, but I was sure that I could tempt some bigger fish. I was fishing on the shorter line so I decided to gamble and re-feed the swim with the same amount of hemp and caster. Sure enough the very next put in resulted in a much better roach of about 6-8oz. Result! It was a pristine fish scale and fin perfect. Caught on a single caster with the hook buried. Classic roach fishing to my mind. Although they can be overlooked at times roach are one of my favorite fish and they’re absolutely stunning in clear water conditions.

This pattern continued for much of the session. It was one of those days where the fish clearly told you when to re-feed. As soon as I started to get fish smaller the one pictured above I knew it was time to feed. The next four or five put ins then produced roach in the range of 5-8oz. All this time I was feeding the 13m line with the catapult. I wasn’t feeding as heavily, it was more of a softly softly approach in the hope of building a swim whilst fishing another so that as the light began to fall there might be a specimen roach waiting.

Well as it turned out, my first two put ins on the long line produced two bites both of which I bumped off on the strike! I don’t think they were roach however they felt more like perch. There are some big perch in this water and I’m pretty sure the hard bony mouth of the perch was the reason the little size 18 hook never penetrated. Maybe some worms will be needed for the next visit here, both for the perch and any bigger roach. I did land one roach from the longer line but it was hard to get a bite after the first two lost fish. I decided to call it a day just as the sun sunk below the trees.

The biggest roach I caught today was probably about 10oz but I am confident that they will go bigger. Even so I had a great 3 hours fishing catching 40 or so roach half of which were half pound fish. I also had a few skimmers mixed in. I left the venue very happy and had the bonus of aniseed smelling fingers for the next few hours. I guess that’s only a bonus if you like aniseed though.

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Until next time,