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,