As I wrote in my last blog, it seemed every time I went fishing I had a cracking result. This, coupled by the fact we were into the last week of the river season, meant I was dashing to the river bank at every opportunity, usually straight after work.
For this particular trip I thought I must be mad. It was throwing it down, but I put my head down and ploughed through the fields in my waterproofs and wellies. My target would hopefully be roach, and I hoped they liked mashed bread, as I’d got a bucket full of the stuff!
The river looked in great trim, but it was raining so heavily I expected these perfect conditions to last no more than a couple of hours. I primed my usual swim with mashed bread, plus a new area I wanted to try. An hour later, I’d managed just the one roach, probably not quite a pound in size. I noticed it had blackspot, as had a few others I’d caught recently
I moved to my new area, not knowing what to expect. After several trots through, the float slid away as something snaffled my bread hook bait. My rod pulsed to the rhythm of a big roach ‘jagging’ away in the flow, hoping to slip the hook. And slip the hook it did, along with the next fish. I was ticking inside, thinking I’d messed my chance up, when I was fortunate enough to strike into what felt like another big redfin. This time my size 14 hook held firm, and I admired a roach that was sure to go over a pound and a half. I placed it into my net and fished on.
The next couple of trots also produced classic bites, both resulted with me striking into solid resistance. They were landed after nervy tussles in the increasing speed of the flow. One was another lump of a roach, close to 2lbs, plus a smaller pound plus sample.
The roach seemed to be queuing up to be caught, but my luck ran out when my hook pulled out of another good fish. Not surprisingly, the bites dried up after that and I trudged back home. Soaked through, frustrated, but happy.
Straight after work the next day, I was back in the same peg. It was a lovely, mild late afternoon, and the river looked good. I half expected it to be too coloured after the previous days rain, but the colour was perfect, though the flow was a bit on the quick side for light hook links and big roach. After feeding some bread mash into the head of the swim, I started to trundle my bread flake, under a float, through the same area.
After an hour, I’d had nothing at all. I let the next trot go a bit further downstream, where the float slid away. After hitting a good fish I realised that this was no roach. There was nothing I could do to move the fish so I walked down to it, where I finally netted a 4lb+ chub. A muscular torpedo of a fish. It even straitened my hook, I don’t know how I landed it to be honest.
Another quiet spell followed, before eventually I had my second bite and I hit into what was obviously a good roach. The next trot followed the same pattern. They were an ounce either side of a pound and a half. Brilliant fish for my locality.
What had switched the roach on. My constant trickling of mashed bread into the swim, the fading light, or both? Whatever the reason, a dead swim now seemed full of good roach.
My next fish was again a roach, I could tell by the fight. This time though I was struggling to gain any line. It was just a stalemate with the fish using it’s size and the flow to it’s advantage. Thoughts were flashing through my head. It was obviously a very good fish, so I decided to walk downstream to make landing it easier. Just when I thought I was going to win the tussle, disaster struck and the hook pinged out. I was gutted. I know you can’t tell for sure, but I know it was a a roach and it felt a lot better than anything else I’d hooked in the swim. Crestfallen, I went home with an empty feeling in my stomach.
The next day, at work, all I could think about was the lost fish. It must have been a ‘2’ that had slipped through my fingers so I had to return straight away, to try and right a wrong. And anyway, I still had some bread to use up!
Once again, it was a lovely evening and the river was a perfect colour. This time the flow seemed to have slowed a little, in fact the conditions were as good as it gets for big roach fishing. I went through my usual routine of feeding mashed bread 30 minutes before my first cast. I was into fish straight away this time, though not the good fish, but mint roach between 6 and 12oz. At least the future roach fishing looked in good shape with different year classes present. I returned all these roach 30 yards upstream, just so I didn’t unsettle the others in the swim.
On my next trot the float bobbed, bobbed again and then jabbed out of sight, only this time it wasn’t the expected scrappy 10oz fish, but something far more substantial. I eased the fish into netting range, where I could see what looked like a very big roach. If I’d lost the fish then I’d have sworn it had to be over 2.8. I managed to land this one though, everything held and I was looking into my net at a very lean, long old roach. It’d obviously been a lot heavier in it’s prime, but it’s best days were now behind it and I’d had the pleasure of seeing one of natures survivors. It was so lean I had no idea what it would weigh, but I soon found out. It’s weight was 2lb 1oz, another roach from my local river over the ‘magical’ mark. I placed this one into my keep net and tried to catch a few more.
As if a switch had been flicked, I now connected with a roach over a pound on most trots, with the odd 1.8+ specimen to get my pulse quickening.
I trotted until I ran out of mashed bread and could no longer see my float in the failing light. I’d already decided to end my local roach fishing on a high, so there was to be no more straight after work sessions. I think my girlfriend must have thought I’d left home as I was never in for more than 30 minutes each afternoon!
What fishing I’d had the pleasure of having though. Long may it continue, and I hope next season is just as enjoyable. I had one last look at my silver and red prizes, then watched them swim back to their home, hopefully for a 3 month rest.