Early Spring = Specimen Roach

This year, between the end of the river season and the time when species such as bream and tench can be targeted, I’ve decided to concentrate on big roach. With days off work scarce, this will probably equate to 4 or 5 days fishing at the most, unless we have a lengthy cold snap. With a syndicate ticket on the fabulous Sway Lakes, that would be my obvious destination, despite the 450 mile round trip!

I was joined for this trip by my mate Martin. He’s had some cracking roach out of here in the past, but he’s had a drought of late when it comes to 2lb+ fish. I gave Martin first choice of peg and he chose where I’d caught my larger specimens over the last two years. I chose a slightly deeper peg that I like, it also gives me a great view down the lake. This peg has also been prolific for me, though the roach can be tricky to locate at this time of year, often shoaling up in readiness to spawn.


My plan of attack was waggler and caster, feeding heavily to get through the smaller roach and bonus perch. I also had some hemp that I planned to feed with the casters and some 4mm feed pellets plus 8mm hookable ones just in case the small roach proved too problematic. I was fishing on my seatbox which is the best way if you want to fish this method effectively, as it involves a lot of work, casting and feeding non stop.


I was straight into the small roach and after about 5 hours was getting mullered by them. I’d caught a few decent perch up to around 2lbs, but no roach of any size at all. Martin was faring slightly better, though no 2lb+ fish had fallen to his rods. He had caught a redfin of 1.12 though, plus a cracking perch that went over 3lbs, the largest I’ve seen from this lake. I’d tried the pellets, but with no luck, so I had a re-think. I put a lot of hemp, casters, plus some pellets in my swim and went for a sleep in my car.


When I returned 90 minutes later it felt a lot warmer. I again tried to battle my way through the smaller fish but with no luck. I tried one of the 4mm pellets on the hook, just to see if the smaller fish were eating them. I didn’t want to be feeding bait that was just going to lay on the bottom, filling any decent sized fish up when they entered my swim. I did catch a 2oz roach on my pellets so decided to fish the 8mm pellets and feed the 4mm ones, plus the hemp and casters. Hopefully the smaller feeding fish would bring in the larger specimens.

After 20 minutes I received my first good bite on the pellets and the rod bent into what felt like a good roach. After a bit of a moment when it nearly got in some nearside branches, I managed to net a fish that pulled the scales round to 2lbs 4oz. After a quick photo from Martin, I lent him some of my pellets and he was into a fish of 2lb 8oz, a new PB for him. The fish were pretty plump, a couple of ounces heavier than normal, and a lot fatter than they were at this time last year.


I carried on getting the odd good bite on the pellets and now wished I’d fetched my comfy chair as I was waiting about 20 minutes between each bite. My next roach matched Martins fish at 2lb 8oz. Again, this nearly snapped me in the tangle of branches and I noticed my hook link was damaged. I decided to up it from .10mm to .12mm, hoping it wouldn’t affect the frequency of my bites. I also changed my hook from a size 18 to a 16. I could always change back if things went dead I thought.


I wasn’t to worry though as my next bite resulted in a cracker of 2lb 10oz and I felt fully in control on the beefier gear.


The next roach went 2lb 2oz, followed by another that went 2lb and a fraction. Things were really hotting up now, but despite a lot of rolling roach in the area, my only other bite was from a 6oz roach! How did that get the pellet in it’s mouth?



Martin never added to his tally, but caught several more cracking perch over 2lbs. Both of us were happy though. He’d caught a new PB roach, and I’d had a top day taking 5 over the magic 2lbs mark. Already though, I’m making plans for the future. When I get a few days off work I think fishing through the dark hours, using a starlight on my float, might get me amongst the bigger roach. A lot of carpers are catching them at night, but I’m not off work until May. Perhaps it could be an autumn plan!