Beaten by weed and the disco barge! (roach article, entry 112)

I really enjoyed my bream sessions that I have had during the last two Springs, and so I decided to have a couple of weeks or so right now, in early autumn, targeting the species. I fancied a crack at the same gravel pit, and with the nights getting longer and the days shorter, yet the water temperature still being quite warm, I was very optimistic as I made my way to the venue for an overnighter.

However, a number of casts with a marker float revealed that the entire bottom was covered in weed. Not a very good sign really, but as I was already there, I decided to fish on anyway regardless. Even with a pop-up boilie, it was just an impossible situation though, and so it was no surprise that I slept right through the night without any ‘disturbances’ whatsoever.

Returning home, upon discovering I had blanked, my wife remarked that I should ‘Just consider it a camping trip’. And when you look at it like that, it was a very successful one – dry night, beautiful surroundings, nice and quiet. What more can a camper want!

Not really wanting to fish anywhere else for bream – it was as much for the venue as for the species – I decided to switch to roach instead. If you read my Angling Journal regularly you will know that I had a whole winter after them at the end of last season, and I failed miserably in my attempt to catch a really good fish. Still, I enjoyed the journey and that’s what it’s all about.

First session I headed for the local canal, armed with a few slices of bread to fish with. Maggots are a great bait, you will catch a fish every cast, but predominantly gudgeon with maybe the odd other species as well. But I wanted to by-pass them and go straight for the better quality roach. Setting up on a bend, I fished towards some reeds on the far bank. I had a fish pretty much straight away, only a small one, not big enough to pose with as an ‘angler plus fish’ photo.

The fish that followed were all much larger, and as the sun set and darkness began to descend, I was quite hopeful of a roach over a pound. When we look at specimen weights we should always take the venue into account, and from the local canal that would be a great fish indeed. However, just as everything was looking good, along comes a boat full of revellers! I’ve had the ‘disco boat’ on the lower Severn before now – well this was the scaled down version – the ‘disco barge’!

It was bad enough having it there in the first place, but when the ‘captain’ decided to do the nautical equivalent of a three-point-turn just yards from my swim, that was the kiss-of-death. Although I continued fishing for a few hours afterwards, all I caught was a skimmer. Well, at least I caught a bream!

To round the week off – and by now it was September – I travelled further afield. Heading southbound on the M5, my destination was the Lower River Severn. Synonymous with barbel, nevertheless there are other species present, including I hope, some big roach! I settled in the peg that I wanted, which since the last work party, is now quite comfortable and offers easier fishing than before.

Switching from the delicate float presentation of the canal, I threaded a cage feeder on the line and fished with 4lb mainline and hook length. I went for that due to the fact that there are some good chub in the stretch. Having caught them myself pushing 6lb, if I did hook one then I wanted to be able to land it. Whilst it’s always good to catch your target species, I’m not going to turn my nose up at an excellent chub if it decides to gatecrash the party! Fishing again with bread, I mixed up a sloppy brown and white crumb mix for the cage feeder. With the sun still high in the sky I cast out and settled back.

I instantly started to get small lightning bites, indicating that roach were already in the swim and feeding. After about ten minutes I managed to hit one of the bites, netting a lovely looking roach that weighed 0-9-8. Not in the monster class, but definitely a good fish to kick off with. Unfortunately though, the promising start didn’t develop into something better. In fact it didn’t develop at all.

That fish proved to be the only one of the session. I couldn’t understand it really, as everything looked just right. And as I was fishing well into dark, you’d have expected something to show – even if only a small greedy chub. But no, my quiver tip remained motionless. The only time that the isotopes moved was when a bat flew into the line. But I did see a Hobby and a Sparrowhawk during the session, and with both birds flying right across me, they gave a very good presentation of themselves. And it’s times like that when the cliché ‘Angling is more than just catching fish’ becomes very real.

(Originally published September 2005)

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