Down Memory Lane

Once again, time has been my enemy, but I’ve managed a few short trips as well as walking down some of my favourite places. The above image was the walk to my favourite big roach peg on my local river. Sadly, as you can see, nobody walks in the area any more so the footpath has become overgrown, just like the river. But I was in for a surprise on this particular walk as it became clear that the EA had decided to breathe some life into the place.

My walk started as a quest to show why new anglers are thin on the ground these days. An Angling Times article suggested we needed to make angling ‘more sexy’ to attract new blood into the sport. I disagreed. I thought how my mates and I came into the sport in the first place. We started catching tiddlers, using nets in the local streams. From there we progressed onto the local rivers using real tackle, and some lifelong anglers were born. Rivers transfixed us in the summer holidays and we used to watch the gudgeon, roach and perch swimming in the clear waters. If we were young boys again I doubt we’d be anglers. The streams have dried up, the river contains very few fish and even the local footpaths have been blocked by new roads and railway fences, where you could once cross the lines. Even the bridge that I caught my first big roach from now has railings on. Probably because of ‘elf n safety’

As I said earlier, I was amazed but glad that the EA had sent the usually dreaded dredger to clear this once prolific fishery. The river either side of the above bridge used to be 5ft deep. I know this because my mates and I all swam in it till we were 16 years old, after jumping in via the bridge! This was in the summer too! Abstraction and subsequent lack of flow meant the river slowly silted up and became overgrown. Even if the cormorants hadn’t eaten most of the fish I think they would have struggled to reproduce in numbers. The gravels have been long gone under the silt and the ever growing willows consumed the place, making it one giant chub swim.

The above picture was my all time favourite roach swim, called the platform, after the metal sheeting was installed in around 1982. It’s finally fishable again now, but the water used to flow inches from the top of the metal, just where I used to place my old green seat box. There was a willow at the end of the swim and I used to draw the roach out from under there by carefully feeding my maggots. I remember showing my mate Martin the swim while we were at school together and promising him I’ll show him how to catch the ‘legendary’ big roach if he came straight after school finished. I had 3 roach all between 1.8 and 1.12 in my net when he turned up, and I’d lost 6 others! It was a great swim.

Look at the rubbish that came out of the swim. there was even more behind me!

I carried on to some other favourite swims and was pleased to see them looking a lot better. We just need a load more water now, and a few more big roach! Anyway, I’ll get on with some fish that I have caught!

A mobile session on a local river produced a fine net of fish to me just before the new year. I started off catching plump roach and dace on maggots from a pacy shallow peg. The fish were in fantastic condition.

The roach went up to around 10oz while some of the dace were close to 8oz, but I was soon searching other swims. I found one swim where I fancied a few fish because it was slightly deeper. I took my time and primed it with some mashed bread over the space of an hour or so. When I started fishing I was soon rewarded for my patience with some plump roach that wouldn’t have been too far off a pound. I did get a better sample that I weighed at 1lb 7oz. A lovely fish, complete with the odd bit of blackspot, a harmless parasite that big roach get from eating infected snails. (So I’ve been told!)

Soon some chub gatecrashed the party, but with them both being over 4lbs, one almost 5lbs, they were most welcome. Even another chunky dace came to my trotted bread before I called it a day.

When I lifted my net out I couldn’t help but admire the quality fish I’d caught on a cold, dark day. After a quick photo I watched them all swim away, and hoped I’d be lucky enough to catch the same roach in a few years time, when they’re all around 2lbs!