Sorry for the lack of recent blogs. I’ve managed the odd trip on the local front, but haven’t been out anywhere near as much as I’d like.
There are a number of reasons for this, but I gave the rivers a miss early season due to the high temperatures and what looked to me, unhealthy, battered fish. Even well into mid July, the fish were looking in a sorry state. I thought I’d give them plenty of time to recover.
Martin and I have walked a lot of local rivers looking for fish, well mainly big roach. We wanted to find more fish away from our usual areas. We succeeded big time, with Martin catching a number of 2lb fish, though 2lb 1oz was the best. They should be an ounce or two heavier in winter though! We found any deeper holes were worth a try. Feeder fished mashed bread was a winner at dusk after work, with plenty of fish over a pound falling to these tactics.
Over enthusiastic pike were a problem, and a few roach were lost to hook pulls after bullying fish, to save it from being pike food! This redfin had the closest of escapes!
I was sensible though, and every time this happened I moved swims, even though a prime roach or more were there for the taking.
One swim gave several ‘2’s to Martin and after he tipped me off, I managed a couple myself. These two fish weighed 1.11 and 2lb 1oz, and still showed signs of over enthusiastic spawning behaviour. They seemed healthy though and were starting to fill out a bit.
We were now getting plenty of rain, and the extra flow and colour this gave the river was giving ideal roach fishing conditions. It was at this point my problems began
I fancied some trips after big barbel or bream, but my car developed electrical gremlins meaning I had to be recovered whilst on the way to the Trent. A couple of weeks and a few quid later and I was sorted, only for the head gasket to go whilst sofa shopping with ‘her who must be obeyed’! Anyway, I decided the car has served me well doing almost 150,000 miles. It has dents, tatty carpets, a broken bonnet catch, chipped windscreen, smells of fish and boilies plus the head gasket problem. Because of this I’ve decided to get another instead of splashing out more than it’s worth to get it ship shape again! As i write this I’m still on the hunt. I wouldn’t be bothered but I’ve just bought Tracey another car after hers started playing up. Talk about everything going wrong at once!
Anyway, I didn’t need wheels with my local roach fishing, just a bit of walking. But there was more to go wrong. I damaged my left eye when I was 17 when a branch went into it. I was told I may need cataract operations in later life, and it left me with 20/20 sight in one eye, but only 4/20 in the other. After a struggle to get used to this over a year, my overall sight eventually adjusted itself so that it was fantastic (as long as I had both eyes open!) I could bat easily against international bowlers at cricket, and I never noticed anything wrong until I woke up a few weeks ago with a cloud like blur over half of my sight. It was far worse in the low light of dawn or dusk and I was booked straight into hospital for a lot of tests, which means I’ll be having a cataract operation very soon. The downside is the trauma caused to my eye when I was 17 means there’s a chance I could lose my sight in the left eye. But I’ve got to try as it’s as good as blind now. Tests revealed my right eye is like a hawks, reading everything the tests threw at me, sadly the left eye is now measured at less than 6 out of 120!
Anyway, because I was struggling to see at dawn or dusk, I had some day time sessions trotting for roach, but gladly accepting everything that came along. I also started using stewed wheat as bait.
My Gran used to tell me my Grandad swore by this bait for local big roach back in the day. She was also in charge of preparing it, and it had to be just right. I compared it against hemp and sweetcorn in the now crystal clear water and the roach definitely liked the wheat more. I was soon taking some good bags of roach on trotted wheat. The only disappointment was the big roach that had been located a few weeks ago had gone. This is a big part of modern big roach fishing in small rivers. Where the cormorants once had easy pickings back in the early 1990s, these new generations of roach have learnt to hide, and almost vanish for months on end before appearing again. Finding big roach back then was easy. On a sunny day, they’d be basking just under the surface almost without a care in the world. Today, they hide under weed, tree roots, overhanging banks, and anywhere else where there’s any cover at all.
With the big ones hiding I had a lot of fun trying for smaller fish, though chunky redfins of 1.10 were caught amongst them.
The odd chub gatecrashed the party too!
It was noticeable how many year classes of roach were in the same shoals. This is great for future roach fishing.
Some days produced numerous specimens over a pound, all in their dark bronze like summer garb. This is just a part of one days catch.
Other shoals were less bronze, but just as welcome, such as these fish between 1 and 2 pounds
And this brings me up to date. Hopefully I’ll be on my travels again in the next blog, and if I’ve had my op, I hope my sight gets back to what it was. In the meantime, roll on those cooler days where the roach won’t be quite as hollow, unlike this 2lb specimen caught in August. Tight lines!