Practising Dark Arts!

On my last trip to Sway it was obvious that the big roach were starting to wise up to big baits fished on the waggler. The carp anglers on the other hand were sick of giant redfins eating their boilies intended for carp. These activities were taking place at night, so I hatched a plan to see if I could scale down the carpers tactics and make them work for me.

When I arrived at the fishery the only angler there was Hugh Miles, he was also fishing in the swim I’d mentally chosen for the session. It’s always nice to have a chat with Hugh, a lovely man and fellow roach nut. He casually mentioned that he’d caught a magnificent 3lb 5oz roach the week before! What a fish and a well deserved capture. I just hoped there were a few more monsters waiting for me.

I settled into an old favourite peg. Hugh had mentioned a few big roach rolling in it at dawn so I hoped they were still around. I started fishing on my trusty method of waggler fished pellet. This time the tactic failed to deliver, even in the usual ‘golden hour’ just before night falls. Instead of going home at this time, or retreating to the car for a sleep like I normally would, I cast out a couple of scaled down carp set ups. These consisted of .5lb test curve specialist rods. 4lb reel line to a 45 gram flat feeder. Just above the feeder was my hook link fished in a small helicopter rig set up. The hook link was 3lb line and the hook a size 16. Banded on to this was a small pineapple boilie. On the feeder I squeezed some scalded 6 and 8mm pellets. This would hopefully give the roach a bundle of attraction to home in on.


I cast both rigs about 10 yards apart, out into the area that I’d been float fishing earlier in the day. I was using alarms and bobbins so I sat back in my comfy chair and took in the darkening evening. Big roach started to roll all over the lake, and a lot were in my swim. It makes me laugh how a seemingly dead swim suddenly turns into a roach paradise just by falling light levels. It was approaching midnight before my alarm finally sounded. In the dark it felt like I was playing a nice roach, though the netting of the fish wasn’t straight forward, due to me struggling to see through the steam coming out of my mouth! Once netted it was time to give it a number, though I was sure it was well over the magical 2lb mark.

It’s funny how a big silver flank looks a lot bigger under torch light than in the day. I thought this roach was a lot bigger than 2.4, but any 2 pound roach is a welcome fish and it was a good start to the session.


That fish was quickly followed by a 2lb 2oz fish, then a larger one of 2lb 11oz. This fish also had me fooled into thinking it was a bit bigger. I thought it might threaten the 3lb mark when I lifted it out of the net, but it was still a cracking roach. I then hooked another good roach, but lost it at the net to a hook pull. After that, I decided to have a sleep in the car. I was tired and getting clumsy so I thought I’d start again at first light.


A heavy shower delayed my start at dawn. I was surprised to see Hugh was still here, but we had the lake to ourselves. Hugh had caught some cracking roach too and we hopefully still had more to come! It was still fairly dark when I started fishing again. Rather than try the float I cast out the mini carp rigs into the same spots and was rewarded with an instant bite, which resulted in a roach of 2lb 5oz


The rest of the day passed without any more roach falling to either of my tactics. Hugh went home in the Afternoon, leaving me with the lake to myself. He mentioned he’d been to see me earlier, but I had been asleep. He commented on my ‘new’ tactics and muttered something about me practising ‘dark arts’ They were working well so far though!

At 7pm I landed another roach of 2lb 4oz, then just into dark another of 2lb 2oz. I went to take a quick photo of this fish but felt a warm sensation on my hand holding the remote. The thing had only done the biggest slimiest ‘fish poo’ all over my remote. It was everywhere, and it was obvious it had been eating a lot of my pellets! I put it back without a pic while I cleaned everything up!


Again, just after midnight my alarm burst into life. This time it felt like a bigger fish, though it was hard to tell as it had gone around my other line. In the torch light, through the steam coming out of my mouth, all I could see was my line snaking around. I thought I might be attached to an eel so played it harder than normal. I was surprised when a roach surfaced and went straight into my net. After being fooled into over guesstimating some of the other roach, I didn’t want to put a number on this, though I struggled to pick it up with my hand. This time the scales confirmed a big roach, all 3lb 2oz of it. What a result, another 3lb+ roach, my 17th in all and my second from Sway.


After a few photos I released her and wondered why I’d not tried these tactics before. No wonder the carp lads were moaning! I decided I’d had enough now, and would drive home while the roads were quiet. Before I could do anything else though my other rod was away and I landed an old looking roach of 2lb 1oz. The action was hotting up and I considered staying, but I think I called it right. There was no need to be greedy, I’ve got all the Autumn and winter months to go yet.


As for these tactics being ‘dark arts’ I’d say they are more like black magic!

Sway Roach Frustration

A couple of months ago I put a day out fishing with me at Sway lakes into a charity auction. The angling community was doing a fantastic job of raising money for the Make A Wish Foundation UK charity, led by Barry Fisher. Barry, plus a few fantastic helpers, were doing wonders in raising money for the favourite charity of his late partner Jodi and her young daughter Ella, tragically killed in a horrific car crash, which also badly injured Barry. Barry has fought back remarkably well after a severe brain injury, but this accident should serve as a warning to us all just how fragile life can be.

I thought a day out with me might raise a few pounds, but I was staggered that it raised over £170. This, together with days out offered by other anglers, tackle, baits, season tickets, books, etc. should hopefully raise over £7000 which is a fantastic effort and one Barry should be proud of. If anybody wants to contribute to this cause the page is

The generous winner turned out to be a gentleman called John Docherty, who also won a few other great days out. John and I travelled down together and he is a top bloke, which was good as we were travelling for over 4 hours each way! I promised him that if he didn’t catch a 2lb+ roach I’d bring him back in the autumn until he did catch one, because I think that’s the least he deserved after being so generous.

The fishing turned out to be tough. The big roach are no mugs in the lake, despite what a few people might think. John chose a peg that’s been prolific for me in the past, but there was a carp angler packing away as we arrived. Whether this affected the big roach or not I don’t know, but John fished well all day for a cracking net of fish, including some lovely perch and roach, but no 2 pound specimens. I fished just the same, not catching as many fish as John, but managing a lovely redfin of 2lb 7oz, plus I lost one at the net. I’ve always said it’s better to be lucky than good!


I showed John my roach, as he’d never seen a 2lb+ one before. I think it’s fired him up for our return, because as Arnie says, he’ll be back. John said he’d enjoyed his day, but next time we won’t be leaving until he’s cracked that magic mark!