I’d booked 3 weeks off work in September and October and this was the last chance of some big roach action. I had hoped that by now the weather would be cooling down and perfect for either still water or river redfins. In the end it had been very mild and wet which had led me to fish for barbel and bream. The high winds had also had an effect. I didn’t want to be driving 200+ miles to try to control a float in 40mph winds. I just had to have a day after my favourite species, so despite mild temperatures and high winds, I headed for Sway Lakes, my favourite roach venue.
On arrival I was the only angler there. I spent the usual pre light period walking up and down the lake looking for rolling roach. I didn’t see much showing, so I settled into a peg at the end of the lake that would shelter me from the gusting winds. It was a peg I’d never fished before, but I was hopeful of a good fish or two.
I set up a simple, slow sinking waggler rig that would be used with casters as bait. After 20 minutes bites were coming every cast, but they were roach of only 2oz or so. This wasn’t in the script, the cooler weather usually puts the smaller fish off the feed, but the weather and water was just too mild. I had 2 options. I either tried to wade my way through the small stuff or try a larger pellet on the hook. Luckily, I had some pellets in my car from earlier barbel fishing sessions so I went to fetch them. I thought I’d try this tactic first rather than keep disturbing the swim.
I banded a 12mm pellet to my size 16 hook. It was nice to be able to sit and relax a little more. If I was going to keep fishing on casters I’d have needed my seat box to be more efficient. Now I simply relaxed, ignoring the bumps and knocks on the float, until it finally went under in a positive manor. The culprit wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but at 6oz, the roach was larger than the others.
About one hour later I had another good bite and this time I knew it was a decent fish. The roach didn’t fight too hard though, coming in with no dramas. I thought the needle on the scales would settle in my favour and at 2oz over the magic 2lb barrier, it did just that!
After that fish I missed a couple more bites and also bumped a decent fish. My hooks were simply the wrong size to be stuck on the side of a rock hard pellet. I started using some softer 8mm pellets that I could mount on the hook, almost like how I hook a caster, with the hook point exposed. This brought me some more good roach, with a couple at 1.10 and 1.13. I also had a few around 6oz, but missed more positive bites. Still, it was a lot better than using the hard pellets.
If I’m honest I’d been caught out by the small fish. If I’d known about them I would have brought the right hooks for fishing large pellets, also I’d probably have used some small pellet feeders on bolt rigs. I know it’s not traditional roach fishing, but you have to adapt at times, and the roach certainly seemed to like the pellets.
As the afternoon wore on, a lot of good roach were rolling in the area I was in, but I’d probably have been better fishing the next peg up from me. The only trouble with that was that the wind was so strong I would have struggled to get any decent presentation with anything other than leger gear. I knew they weren’t far away though, so I carried on feeding 4mm pellets with the odd 8mm one, hoping to draw them in. My persistence paid off when I hooked another roach of 2lb 2oz. It was a different fish from the first, just the same weight. Again, it was a nice steady fight. Give a little line here and there, but safely going in the net without those last second ‘thrashes’ that lead to sickening hook pulls.
As the light faded more roach were rolling in my peg. I bumped a good fish and missed a couple of good bites. I knew I was going to get another chance, and it came while I was talking to the lakes owner. This fish pulled a little harder and felt bigger than the others. When it was safely netted, I could see it was probably an older fish. Longer in the body, but also leaner. I estimated 2.4, where’s the owner said 1.15. I let him do the weighing and the needle settled on 2.3. He then announced ‘he couldn’t see without his glasses’ but said 2.2! I wasn’t going to argue. A trio of 2lb 2oz fish was a cracking days roach fishing in anybody’s book.
I think I could have snuck at least one more big redfin out, but I decided to end the day on a high note, not straining my eyes before a 4 hour drive home. The lake shuts for maintenance now until January, so hopefully there will be less small fish activity then, and more chance of catching one of the 2lb 8oz+ big girls. The only downside to the day (Being a Yorkshire man) was the 5 pints of unused casters!