Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out (roach article and video, entry 279)

Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out

In last week’s article I started off with the words, ‘I’m not a morning person’. Well, this week I could just as easily introduce the piece by saying I’m not a kitchen person either. I get dizzy at the sight of washing-up, the only stove I can relate to is the one that I ignite at the water’s edge, and the only food preparation I know about is mixing bird food, fishmeal and eggs. Yet in spite of that, I kicked off my angling week at work in the kitchen. With three roach sessions planned on the local canal network, I needed to prepare some white breadcrumb. Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out indeed.

Focusing on roach

The first trip was to the rural Staffs/Worcs canal and I headed for a section where I have caught some nice perch before but never specifically fished for roach. But when using maggot in pursuit of the former I have connected with one or two good roach. So the idea was that if I targeted them I would be able to test the true potential of the water, certainly to some degree at least. You can’t find out everything in a session or two, you need to spend years on a venue before you really get to know it properly.

But at least by fishing with bread I would eliminate perch and also gudgeon, although not entirely as they will take the bait. I mixed the white crumb with brown to a ratio of about 1:5. This meant that the white would stand out just enough to gain the interest of the fish, and of course the larger hookbait would then be the main course. In this day and age of ‘technology baits’ bread is often neglected by many anglers, yet in my view it is one of the most effective baits around. Certainly on venues where people feed the ducks it has to be part of the angler’s armoury.




A roach from the canal

Mine eyes are dim I cannot see…

I was off to a good start when first cast I caught a nice roach. As I often write regarding specimen fish, everything is relative to the water you are on and ultimately you can only catch what is swimming in front of you. Therefore anything over a pound would be a very good fish indeed and whilst this one didn’t top that mark, it still needed the net to secure it.

One thing I did realise though, even before I cast out, was that I need my eyes testing. I’m used to working with 10lb line and size 4 hooks and having to fiddle about with 1lb 6oz to size 18 had me blindly poking line at the hook hoping it would pass through the eye. I wear glasses for computer work (I have them on right now) and it looks like I will be taking them fishing as well from now on.




Tip of the week

If people feed ducks and other water birds on a venue then definitely consider bread as a viable bait. Lots of it will find its way to the bottom of the lake, river or canal and it will become almost a natural bait for the fish.

The float I opted for was a small 2AA waggler, with the shot reasonably well spread out. I fished slightly over-depth and had an anchor shot a few inches from the hook. Although the canal is a stillwater, it has a certain amount of flow at times and so that shot meant that the bait could be kept stationary. Once dusk came I added an isotope to the top of the float and so was able to fish into darkness. The session yielded a few roach and a single gudgeon.


Battling the leaves

I was back on the exact spot a few days later. This time the conditions were very different and the rain was heavy. Needless to say, I had the whole canal to myself. The only person I saw during the session was a drenched-to-the-bone jogger and his two dogs. But my problem wasn’t the rain but the leaves. At one stage thousands of English oak leaves carpeted the surface of the canal and it looked like they were there to stay before my prayers were answered and the increased flow took them away. A difficult session but I again managed roach, so mission accomplished once more.

I decided to end the week on one of the many urban Black Country canals, again after roach. When I was a kid the only thing you would have caught from the cut was a disease, but now they are thriving wildlife havens, both above and below the surface. The water birds were numerous, with the above average density populations of coot, mallard and moorhen no doubt sustained by the bread that people throw to them regularly.



Small, but perfectly formed

Learning from every session

However, in spite of my optimism at being in such an area where lots of bread finds its way into the water, I failed to tempt any roach. I did have a few slight tremors on the float, but the cold weather appeared to put the roach off their food. But I still enjoyed the week even though I didn’t catch any big roach. The truth is that you will never really know what a venue contains until you have a go and fish it for something different. In my book there is no such thing as a wasted session, even from blanks we can draw something.




Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

With a mild spell forecast it’s time to get out the barbel gear. I’m intending to fish the River Severn but where I head for will depend on the level of the river. The river has been in the fields and so I will no doubt be seeking out one of my known high water marks.

(Originally published November 2008)


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