Hard going but still catching (roach article and video, entry 291)

Hard going but still catching

With the start of the week seeing more of the same as far as the weather was concerned, the low and clear conditions saw me back on the River Stour (Staffordshire/Worcestershire) after dace. I had an early morning start and it was another very cold day. Our bedroom at home is at the front of the house and so looking out, even before I went to bed the previous night, and seeing the car covered in a layer of ice told me what to expect the next morning. I know people think we are crazy to even consider venturing out in such conditions, but if you’re an angler from the same mould as I am from, then I don’t even need to begin to justify do ! Although it is nice to fish in perfect conditions of course, it’s during the tough times that we really develop as anglers. Anyone can catch when all the boxes are ticked, but as we know angling isn’t like that, and so it’s the challenges that will either make us or break us as anglers.


Passionate but not obsessed

I fished quite light with a 1lb 6oz hooklength (Drennan Team England) and a size 20 Drennan Super Specialist hook. My rig was simple, with a free running 1/8oz lead that easily held bottom in a river that hadn’t seen any rain for a while. Fishing single maggot on the hook I had several taps and knocks on the quiver tip but nothing definite. You get the feeling that the fish are just playing with the bait, not intentionally as if to wind you up, but simply because they couldn’t be bothered eating. And who blames them really!

Angling is like every other area of our lives, we get out what we put in, and dedication and commitment are important qualities. It makes sense to target particular species or venues according to the weather, but the idea of not fishing at all is not one that I even entertain. Of course, as I often say, fishing can be whatever you want it to be and I would never dream of criticising those who only venture out occasionally and when the sun is high in the sky. We all pitch in at the level we want to, but for me it’s a passion, although I would not describe it as an obsession. There is a world of difference between being passionate and obsessive, and if we are the latter then we definitely need to step back and examine where we are. Fishing isn’t life and death – and no I’m not going to paraphrase the Bill Shankley quote. I mean exactly that.


The river was up and coloured


Heading for the River Stour

Back on the Stour for session two a few days later and the river was looking very different. Rain and melted snow had pushed the river up well over a foot, which is a big rise on a small river like the Stour. Because of the conditions I also switched to roach as my target fish. With plenty of colour in the water I fished the reel line of 2lb 8ox Maxima straight through to a size 18 hook. With increased flow I fished a small (20g) cage feeder filled with brown crumb and maggots. Although the river was up and rising, I was still able to fish with a 0.5 ounce tip.

The swim had an overhanging tree on the far bank, that although bare at this time of the year as far as foliage is concerned, still offered security to any fish on an otherwise open stretch. Casting to the feature I was able to keep the feeder in position, which surprised me a little as the river was carrying extra water and therefore had more pace than normal. But I wasn’t complaining, and apart from the occasional small piece of dead weed that fastened to the line, as far as presentation was concerned, everything was perfect.

A nice roach and it all comes good






Tip of the week


Keep going!

When the going gets tough, don’t give up.

Think about where to fish and what to target but above all, be determined and focused.


One encouragement was that the water temperature was rising during the afternoon. Not by much, and it was already low, but trend is important. I started off with a few taps that didn’t develop, and it was a couple of hours or so later before I had the next bite. As soon as I hit into it I knew that it wasn’t a small fish, but with the coloured water I didn’t get to see what it was until it was about to be netted. It was then that I found myself looking down at a very good roach. What had been a very tough week had suddenly become a good one. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure in specimen angling.

Not that I ever get discouraged in my fishing, but it certainly gives you a lift when it all comes together and the goods are produced. I added another roach as well but not as big as the first. I packed away just into dark and left a rising river, but one that was still very fishable. There are lots of anglers who get put off by rivers that are in flood or even slightly above normal level. But actually, all we need to do is target the right species and pick the right spot and we can potentially cash in. And that’s what happened to me as I switched from dace to roach. So if you’re one of those who is deterred by extra water, then think again.



A nice roach from the Stour

The unpredictability of angling

I was back on the Stour a couple of days later and this visit rounded the week off. I had time for a 5 hour session and was very hopeful. The river was falling but still had colour and the temperature was up by 1C and rising. It all looked very good, and back in the same peg where I had the roach from I was expecting some quality action. But apart from a few slight rod taps and a single small gudgeon I struggled. Fishing is just like that though – totally unpredictable. And it’s that sense of the unknown that makes it all the more interesting in my view. Although there are anglers out there who predict when fish will feed down to the minute via the moon phase theory, I don’t buy into that. There are too many other factors involved, including ‘the great unknown.’


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

The temperature is predicted to pick up over the next week so I’m going to continue on the Stour and see whether my roach was a one-off or whether it was the baby of the bunch. I’ve looked at my diary and I can fit a few sessions in so I’m looking forward to hitting the river and pitting my wits against the roach.

(Originally published February 2009)

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