‘Cut’ Gems

Fishing time is usually at a premium for me as we approach the Christmas period, but this year it’s been even worse. A couple of operations on one of my dogs left him with a large open wound that needed someone with him at all times. He’s fine now, but then there was family birthday meals, birthday parties, etc etc etc! To save me going round the bend, I’ve had to snatch the odd few hours here and there on local venues. Here are the highlights and lowlights from them.

To start with I was down in the dumps as my local rivers roach population were taking a hammering from a few goosanders. There’s not much I can do about this other than hope the roach manage to hide somewhere safe. I visited one prolific spot and all I could see in the clear water was a couple of chub and a perch. There wasn’t a roach in sight. I had a dabble for what I could see and caught the perch. It was a lovely plump thing, a monster for the future (hopefully!

A week later Martin and I set off across the fields to try and see where any redfins might be hiding. But when we arrived at the river some overnight rain had badly coloured the water and there was a lot of debris coming down in the flow. This was a shock, but with both of us having very little spare time we quickly hatched a plan. We walked back and drove a few miles down to our local canal. We only had a few hours spare so we had a short match, hoping to focus our efforts on catching as much as we could. We both used casters and were fishing for anything, but I bet we were both secretly hoping for one of the big roach in this stretch, I know I was!

To be fair, fish wise and action wise, Martin thrashed me. He had a cracking net of dace (yes, canal dace!) and some plump perch. However, I only landed seven fish, but the smallest was a 10oz roach, as well as 3 chunky bream, plus 3 hard fighting chub. It was a real contrast of catches despite us only being a few yards apart.

I even had a few photos taken of my fine canal net of fish

The chub, whilst nothing special from most venues, were pretty big for a tiny canal. The best ones were 4lb 2oz and 3lb 14oz. They were a bit scabby, but very long and broad across the back

Martin and I were disappointed with the lack of roach, though the one I caught suggested more might have been in the area. We’d both fished ultra light canal float tactics, but because the water was crystal clear, we suspected the line shy roach might have shied away from our baits. To see if my hunch was right, I returned a week later armed with different tactics. A bag full of liquidised bread and a few slices for the hook was coupled with a very sensitive ‘bomb’ rod and some tiny cage feeders. The only problem was the weather was now ‘Arctic’ and the canal looked devoid of life. A short walk saw the odd bream milling about, then some chub on the far bank. I never saw any roach, but I know they’re pretty well camouflaged, even in very clear water.

I started where I fished on my last time out. The first cast saw a plume of white bread particles follow my pinch of flake to the bottom of the canal. I tensioned the tip slightly, when it tapped and pulled round slightly. I could tell it wasn’t a roach when I struck, but a hefty slab. You could see it fighting in all it’s glory as I played it to the net on the ultralight tackle. It was like the proverbial wet sack!

After this fish, it was a succession of quick raps, typical of shy roach bites. I landed a dozen nice roach, not massive, but some of over half a pound. It was a good few hours fishing and I think I’d cracked ‘the method’ for the roach. The trouble with this though was the amount of dog walkers, cyclists, and nice people who stopped for a chat. I was struggling to hit a lot of my bites as I was in danger of cracking them in the face with my rod. Thats the trouble quiver tipping in such a tight space. When someone is looking at your rod tip it’s a bit rude to suddenly swipe them across their nose! I needed to think about my problem.

I decided to fish the last hour or so of light, on a tiny canal float, with bread on the hook. I fished well over depth, making sure I had a few inches of line on the bottom. I reckon it would work, despite the temperatures now reaching freezing overnight, and not much more in the day!

And it did work, despite seeing some very strange characters near the canal as darkness fell. I fished until I could no longer see the float, though sometimes I couldn’t see it because a big bar of canal silver had engulfed my bread.

I’m wondering whether there’s any 2lb + roach in this canal. Rumours say there might be and I’m on the right track, though I might have to wait until the close season to find out!