Rivers and roach (Entry 155)

A glorious late summers day was already in full swing, the sky was largely cloudless, birds swooped and sung, and a myriad of insects darted as I made my way along the river bank. The conditions of the river itself could be summed up in two words. Low and clear. Go on then, three words. The wind gusted, strongly at times, and always seemed to be in a downstream direction. The lack of water and clarity presented a great opportunity to take note of the rivers make up though, and I made a mental note of any hidden snags, deeper pools and channels, drop offs and shallow glides. Such as this was, it took much longer to begin fishing than it would normally do but it was not wasted time. I am quite sure of that.

I’d left the barbel gear at home this week; swapped for my trotting rod and a pint of casters. I was hoping that if I wandered between swims I might find a shoal or two of dace or maybe a big hungry chub or roach. Given the conditions, I didn’t expect fishing to be easy, but these things are sent to try us, not that fishing in such beautiful countryside is particularly trying. I donned my waders and carefully made my way out into the river, edging ever closer to a short glide with a little pace, a haven for dace. At least so I thought. After half an hour without so much as an indication I came to the conclusion that my theory was wrong and the dace were not home. Or maybe I had just created a little too much disturbance as I waded out. Next swim ninja mode would be activated.

Roach magnets

Well, I am either a pretty poor ninja or the fish were just not in the mood for any late afternoon feeding, having tried several more swims without any joy. I sat on the bank amongst the tall grass and ate a cheese sandwich. The most loyal of all fisherman’s snacks. Made even better by some red onion relish. For now the fish could wait. As my tastebuds were treated, so were my eyes, not just by the countryside but the slow realisation of were I needed to fish next. Just downstream of where I now sat; a shallow area gave way to deeper, steadier water and a fine gravel bottom melted into earthy darkness. It screamed fish. It screamed roach. Then again all the other swims I’d already fished had screamed dace and so far I was drawing a blank.

Food devoured, I made my way into position, easing myself through the gentle currents, the water rising to knee height and beyond. I reached into my bait pouch and began to feed a few casters. Small, regular helpings that cascaded wonderfully though the water. The sunlight hit them, making them look more like jewels offered up, than bait. Red, orange and yellow. I restrained from casting for all of five minutes before the stickfloat was joining the free offerings, carrying its own payload downstream, a double helping of course. No bite came. Not on the second or third trot either. But this swim seemed right. I felt a confidence I hadn’t in the others. I persisted and was after a time rewarded. The tiny orange speck of my float tip stuttered from sight. I struck and bumped a heavy fish! A sharp intake of breathe. Then time to begin again. On this trot too the float sunk and I once again bumped a heavy fish. Expletives escaped my lips this time but the wind carried them away from any ears upstream. And the cows downstream of me didn’t speak ‘human’ so no offence was caused.

Staring back at me

Ten bite-less minutes passed and I feared that my chance had come and gone. I tried running the float on a different line, a little closer in, and on the first trot through the float sank confidently. Thankfully I made contact with a fish, a jagging, head shaking fish, that erratically darted in one direction then another. It felt a good fish. I carefully lead the unseen prize upstream where it became visible in the clear water. I was kind of sorry I saw it. A big roach. Certainly the biggest I have ever hooked in a river. Once its identify was confirmed, every twist and turn became amplified, and I was sure the fish would come off. It would surely find a way to flick the tiny hook free or steer the line onto the sharp edge of a rock. Somehow, and I really mean somehow, I managed to net the fish. I can’t remember doing so.

A stunning old roach

I took a moment to compose myself before wading to the bank, in front of me, safe in the net, was a new river PB roach. I could tell just by looking at it. Brassy flanks, highlighted with streaks of gold, a brilliant red eye and glowing orange fins. It was a rare sight. Quite honestly one of the the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. A photo quickly taken and then onto the scales. My new river PB roach was confirmed at 1lb 11oz. What a great day this had turned into.

Another pound plus roach

It didn’t end there though. Once the roach had been returned, I halfheartedly had another cast where quite to my disbelief, I caught another roach. A little smaller this time but still a fish anyone would be proud to catch. Especially on a method and bait so synonymous with the species. At 1lb 7oz it made up the brace of pound plus river roach. Little did I expect a result like that as I had headed river-ward just five hours previously. A memorable day had indeed been made.

Beautiful colours

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6 thoughts on “Rivers and roach (Entry 155)”

      1. Makes me hungry does this. Pound plus river roach are hard to find and hard to catch. And seeing them too soon is not a good idea! Last time I had a very high one pounder from flowing water I really thought I had a grayling coming in till I saw the unmistakables!

        Then my legs just gave way and I was a quivering idiot. It got under the bank and tangled in weed. Thought I’d lost my chance. If I’d never seen it till the last moment things would have plain sailing…

        That river PB still stands. I’ll beat it one day. One day when things are just so. And I’m not in any hurry for that day to arrive.

        Right up my street. Congrats!

  1. Some beauties there Vinny. You just can’t tire of catching such lovely fish. I almost look forward to the winter just so I can’t start fishing for them. I really ought to make more effort to catch a few in the summer months.

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