Hindsight is a wonderful thing (roach article, entry 133)

After an excellent perch fishing run-in to the end of 2005, you couldn’t really blame me for continuing in that mode for the New Year. However, after a disastrous start of three weeks where I couldn’t muster a single angler plus fish photograph, I finally cut my losses and switched to some roach fishing. With the temperatures this year so far being really cold, I should have done it earlier. But as we all know, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I managed two sessions this week, both on rivers. Well, with overnight temperatures being minus, that was a logical move as ice had formed on pools and canals in the area. And although I have fished English rivers with ice in the margins before, it would take a freeze of almighty proportions to extend across to the far bank.

First up I visited the River Stour. Not the well known Dorset specimen venue, but the one that flows through the Black Country and then into Worcestershire before finally emptying itself into the River Severn at Stourport, which is of course, where the town derives its name from. As expected, for a river that flows through a heavily industrialised area, the Stour is hardly crystal clear and pure. However, it is making a definite comeback, particularly compared to the recent past when it was extremely polluted.

I have fished the river before, although not for a few years, so it was with excitement that I set up in a swim not really knowing what to expect. I had caught some nice roach before though, and as they were my target species, I was hoping to repeat myself this time round. The Stour is often overgrown and you have to either clear a swim or settle in a peg that allows good access. I opted for the latter, particularly as I had an attractive run of water in front of me.

With minimal flow I fished a tiny leger, combined with 1lb 6oz hook length and a size 20 hook. With no snags in the swim, that tackle was sufficient to land anything that I was likely to catch from the river. However, having said that, even as I type I am reminded of a carp that I caught from the Stour a few years back. So perhaps I should prefix ‘anything’ with ‘mostly’.

After several months of spinning, it was nice to get back to watching a quiver tip. Variety is definitely the spice of life as far as I am concerned regarding my angling. I find that a change of species, or even tactics, helps to keep the enthusiasm level high. Mind you, I am such a fanatic I hardly need any encouragement to go fishing. I literally eat, sleep and drink it. It plays a massive role in the theatre of my life, definitely centre stage rather than support act.

My session on the Stour went really well. Lots of gudgeon, in fact it was like fishing the Staffs/Worcs canal, which is renowned for its legendary shoals of the fish. But every now and then, in between the numerous gudgeon takes I would get a lightning bite, which resulted in a sucked maggot. Eventually I started to hit a few of these and ended up with small, but extremely feisty roach. They were also in top class condition, indicating that they are hardly fished for. I wouldn’t like to say that they have never been caught. It may be true though, who knows.

After the very enjoyable session on the Stour I decided to fish the Middle Severn to round off the week. It may sound a paradoxical thing to say, but the sun was bright in the sky yet it was very cold at the same time. The air temperature was predicted to peak at 5 degrees. But I was confident enough. Still I couldn’t believe just how quickly my first fish came. No sooner had the cage feeder settled than the rod tip pulled round and I found myself striking into what seemed like a decent fish.

As I played it I was convinced that I had hooked either a chub or a very small barbel. That’s an indicator of just how hard the fish fought in the current. So you can imagine my surprise – and delight – when I played the fish to the edge and found myself slipping the net under a decent roach. What a start to the session, it’s the equivalent of scoring a goal with the first kick of the game.

Suddenly the first three weeks of January seemed but a dim and distant memory. That’s the great thing about angling, we are all just one fish away from turning around even the worst session / week / campaign or whatever. That’s all it takes, just one fish. The rest of the session on the Severn went well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I caught other roach and also some very nice dace. In fact one of these days I am going to have a campaign for dace. But that’s in the future sometime. For now I shall be targeting roach, and hopefully building on this first week of the campaign.

Next week I’ll run through my rigs in a little more detail, as I do get mails from time to time asking about that aspect of my angling. Although my Angling Journal has a definite anecdotal slant to it, I do try to incorporate a slight technical vein running through it. Not too technical, just enough to educate, as I am aware that a lot of beginners read the articles each week. And if just one person gets something from the site with each update then it is definitely a case of job satisfaction on my part. Even if it’s just my enthusiasm and passion for angling rubbing off on one person, then I’ll be a happy man myself.

(Originally published January 2006)

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