Bronze and Silver, But No Gold!

Angling press reports suggested that a few decent barbel were coming out of the River Trent, so after finishing work I drove the 40 minutes or so to a stretch on the ‘Middle River’ I would be joined later by a mate so I tried to fish an area where we could fish next to each other. This meant I settled into a couple of pegs that I’d not fished before, but they seemed like they’d seen little angling pressure.

I fished my usual tactics, trying not to catch loads of fish, but just the odd big one. Very little feed and big hook baits were the orders of the day. I lost a barbel straight after starting, to a hook pull, probably because I was using barbless hooks. I don’t normally use them, but I was expecting a few bream to show up in the night. Unhooking them would be far simpler using the barbless patterns I thought, but I do seem to lose the odd barbel on them.

Not very long after this, the tip started banging and bucking, but the lack of line peeling from the bait runner gave me a clue to the culprit, a decent chub around 4lbs or so in weight. That meant I’d avoided the dreaded blank. Twenty minutes or so later a ‘3 foot twitch’ left me in no doubt what my second fish of the night was. A barbel took a few yards of line, before plodding around sulking in the flow. That usually means a larger than average barbel has taken the bait. I quickly bullied it under the rod tip where it came into the beam of my head torch. At this point, my mate Matt and I, tried our best to knock it off the hook with the landing net! It was tricky landing it in the shallow, rock strewn water, but despite our attempts, we soon had the barbel resting in the net.

I had no Idea of the size until I tried to lift it on the mat. I could tell then it would go well over double figures. When it was laid on the mat l could see an immaculate bronze summer barbel. Almost scale and fin perfect, it seemed criminal to bundle her into a weigh sling. I did just that though and the scales read 12lbs 12oz, a lovely start to my Trent barbel campaign and a fish that will certainly be over 13lbs in the Autumn.

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After the barbel the only action was from bream. They were lovely chunky bream of over 5lbs in weight. You could hardly call them a ‘nuisance’, but all too soon the sky started filling with light as a hot day was about to begin.

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After a quick trip home to swap my tackle, I walked my local river before the sun became too hot. Under some bushes I could spot the odd big roach and I just had to try for them.

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Steady feeding of casters soon had a shoal of roach darting about for freebies and a few of them looked 2lbs or more. Unfortunately I caught their smaller shoal mates of around 12oz – 1lb, but they were stunning chunky roach which looked like they had been freshly minted from silver and ruby’s.

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I kept persevering though, and just as the sun was becoming too warm, I hooked into a very large roach. It instantly dived for the weed, but steady pressure did it’s job and turned her. It looked like I was winning the battle when a stray piece of floating weed wrapped around the line. This gave the roach the opportunity it needed and as it boiled on the surface the hook pinged free. All I could do was watch a big old roach sulk into the weed beds, not to be seen again.

There went the golden end to my day, but being so close to home I was soon back for tea and medals. Bloody roach fishing!

Summer Stalking

I know I said I wouldn’t return to my local river roach hot spot until the Autumn, but after a walk down the river I was bursting to get back.

The reason is the river is so low and clear, it’s made fish spotting very easy. I walked past an area that I haven’t fished before whilst showing a mate around the river. It was well away from where I have caught all my other big roach in the past. Because of the low water, almost 90% of the river can be discounted for holding good fish, which just leaves the slightly deeper pools to explore. In one such pool, surrounded by thick weed, there was a shoal of roach, probably consisting of about 15 in number. Most were in the 10oz to 1lb+ size, but a handful looked around 2lbs. What really caught my eye though was the roach that was about 4 inches longer than the 2lb fish! What it weighed I didn’t dare to guess, but it was a massive roach and I had to return to catch it.

On my return the roach were nowhere to be seen. It was like a different river. After feeding casters into the weed, a few average sized chub came out to feed, along with one modest sized roach. I tried to catch the roach using my crystal dibber float tactics, with a caster on the hook and was soon rewarded with the roach which was about 14oz.

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This confirmed that my size estimates were about right so I patiently carried on feeding casters, hoping to lure the roach from wherever they were hiding.

Fast forward another hour and I’d almost given up. The swim now had 12 mad chub whizzing everywhere for my casters, when I spotted another roach that had simply appeared like magic! It wasn’t the big girl but looked around 2lbs so I was going to try and catch it. The hard part was getting it away from the chub. I noticed from time to time it would come close in to look for any ‘shells’ it had missed so I waited with my float rig over that spot. I’d gotten myself all ‘cammo’d’ up to avoid spooking the fish and this paid off when it came under my nose with no ‘bodyguard’ chub. I lowered the rig straight in front of her and she rose in the water to sip the caster in on the drop.

When I struck, all hell broke loose as the redfin thrashed about on the surface like a trout before diving for the weed beds. I went to give it a bit of line, but I’d managed to get the line looped around the handle! What a mistake, but luckily it didn’t cost me as everything held and I bundled another mint, specimen roach into the waiting net.

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The second I managed to isolate the roach from the chub, it took the bait without hesitation. That told me these fish were hardly, if ever, fished for. I just needed to find it’s big sister now!

A few hours later and the writing was on the wall. The majority of the big roach were hiding either in the weed, or another area of river. I’ll just have to return from time to time to see if they make another showing.

I consoled myself with catching some of the chub. It was the easiest fishing I’ll do, though the battles were great with the surrounding weed beds and light tackle. Most chub were the long, torpedo shape and I’d estimate them all at 4lbs and above.

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The best weighed 4lbs 15oz until I landed a very deep stocky fish that pulled the needle of the scales well past the 5lbs mark. A very big chub for these parts and it was most welcome.

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I think the final tally was 12 – 2 in my favour for chub landed to those lost, which was a great days fishing even without the roach. That’s over 50lbs of fish in a short session. I’d have never believed it if you said I’d be making catches like this 20 years ago. The only sad thing, in my opinion, is the river is basically a chub river these days rather than a roach river, probably thanks to the cormorants. Still, there are still specimen roach to be found. Lets hope that will always be the case.