With almost a full week off work ruined by the constant rain, a window of dry weather loomed near the south coast (according to the weather forecast) I had planned to spend around 10 days at Sway this spring, but hadn’t even managed 2. I bundled the gear in the car and set off on the long journey that now costs me about £60 in diesel instead of the £40 from just a couple of years ago.
As before, on arrival, there wasn’t a car or angler in the place. After doing my usual fish spotting routine, the only roach activity was coming from where I’d fished 2 weeks previous. I took my tackle down to my swim and started on the maggot feeder rods, which was the most successful method from last time. Action came straight away, but it was a succession of small perch that left me frustrated. With clear, warm skies, which had me in my t-shirt, it was far from ideal ideal roach conditions.
In the afternoon, the sky darkened and the odd shower soaked me. This seemed to stir the roach up and the odd one rolled, not in my swim, but not far away on either side of me. I decided to go for it. The feeder rods were thrown up the bank and the waggler rod was employed. I started feeding casters and hemp, fairly heavily, to both feed off the perch and bring the roach in.
I gritted my teeth and waded through the perch, then just before 3pm I hit into my first roach. At 1.13 it was a nice start and it was soon followed by another of 1.11. A couple of hours later I hit into a better fish, which I thought was a good roach, as it took the caster high up in the water. It ran hard for snags to my right so I leant into it as hard as I dare on my light tackle. I only just managed to turn it in time (these roach fight really hard!) but it was soon in the net. I struggled to put a weight on this roach. It was long enough to be well over 2.8, but it was a lean fish with some scales missing and the odd scar. It went 2.3 on the Reubens so the trip was a success no matter what happened from now.
As afternoon turned to evening, the rain started to get pretty heavy. This just seemed to make the roach more active, they were now rolling everywhere. I continued fishing hard until the light faded and I was soaked. I’d added some more roach up to the dreaded 1.15 mark, but I was sure more was to come. I sat and thought what to do. I couldn’t fish the night for carp (which I had planned to do) soaked through, nor did I want to abandon an area full of rolling roach. I filled the peg in with a pint of hemp and the same of casters then went to the car. I put the heater on full blast then hung my gear to dry on the steering wheel and seats. My phone was waterlogged too, but after a hot meal and a nice nights sleep, I woke ready to do battle with the roach once again.
My clothes had dried nicely, but I struggled to open the car door because it was frozen solid! The warm rain had turned into solid ice as a heavy frost descended on the New Forest. My shelter, which I had left up to cover my tackle and bait, was also solid ice, but the roach were still rolling!
A heavy mist sheltered the lake from the already bright blue sky. I knew I didn’t have long to take advantage before the redfins switched off. At 6am I hit into my first roach of 1.11. It took the caster on the drop so I moved all the dropper shot around the float as I thought the roach were up in the water. This paid off as 10 minutes later I was in again. This time it was one of the better fish that took on the drop. I played it praying that the size 18 barbless hook wouldn’t fall out and my prayers were answered. This roach took the scales to the 2.10 mark, a cracking roach in anyone’s book, on the waggler too.
As predicted, the sun then burnt through the mist and the fish switched off. It was now so warm that in the hour it took me to pack my gear up, all my tackle dried completely! Pulling out of the fishery, I knew the weather had wrecked my spring roach fishing, but 5 over 2lbs and a number of near misses is still a good result. I will return in the autumn after I’ve visited big roach in other venues, plus tackled bream and tench when or if the warm weather arrives.