Location, location, location! One of the keys to successful angling is knowing where the fish are. Sounds obvious really, but it can be one of those factors that if we are not careful, can easily be overlooked. Hence, I started my winter roach campaign a couple of weeks ago, by visiting the River Severn with the initial intention of locating some redfins.
If you read the article you will know that out of the three sessions I fished, only on one did I catch any roach. Therefore it was to that stretch – on the Lower Severn – that I decided to fish this week. Whereas on my initial scouting trip I had fished with maggots, now that I knew roach were there, I decided to concentrate on bread as a hook bait – therefore eliminating species such as gudgeon and dace.
To complement the bait on the hook, I fished a cage feeder filled with mashed bread and brown crumb. Whilst many anglers prefer to float-fish, with the river below Worcester being deep and wide, the cage feeder is a much more efficient way of presenting a bottom bait. Plus, with my intention being to fish well into dark, fishing a quiver tip is far more practical.
Arriving at the river, it was low, as expected. It was a mild day, and as I usually find, particularly fishing mid-week, I was the only angler as far as the eye could see. We do hear about pressurised stretches of river, and of course in some instances, that is true. And even on the Lower Severn, certain venues get their fair share of attention.
But apart from one such venue, where I haven’t fished anyway for a while, in four years of concentrating on the river below Worcester, only once I have I arrived at a stretch to find my pre-chosen peg occupied by another angler. Not bad, eh! There are still vast tracts of largely unfished river, and due to the nature of the beast, there is always that element of the unknown, certainly as far as my barbel fishing there is concerned.
And in many ways, that is also true of roach – the potential is an unknown factor – particularly as they are pretty much left alone as far as anglers targeting them is concerned. Hence it was with a certain amount of excitement that I set up at the bottom of a steep bank, and cast out into the river. With it just being after mid-day I had hours of fishing time ahead of me, and it was certainly encouraging to get taps almost immediately.
After missing a few bites I eventually found myself playing a nice fish. As I got it towards the bank, I lowered the net in the water and proceeded to prepare for landing. As the fish broke the surface a couple of lengths out, I was more than happy to see the distinctive appearance of a roach. Drawing it in, suddenly the line went slack – the hook had pulled! The fish was well over a pound, so was classified as a ‘good one’ in my book. But far from getting despondent, I was actually encouraged to know that I was at least in the right place – location, location, location and all that!
A few moments later, on re-casting, I had another fish take the bait. This time I landed it, and although I do love chub – as indeed I do all fish – I did find myself wishing it was a roach I was staring at in the folds of the landing net. The rest of the session proved to be quite active as far as bites were concerned. Apart from the odd quiet spell, I caught a steady stream of fish. However, they were all chub and not one roach put in an appearance – although I did suspect that several missed bites could have been from my target species. I finished at 10.30 p.m. with the intention of returning to the same peg a couple of days later.
And so it was, on the Friday I once more found myself navigating the southbound traffic on the M5 in pursuit of the elusive roach. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was quite chilly, even though the sun was evident by its presence in the sky. But it was dry, and that is always a blessing. I again fished the same peg, and literally within a few seconds of casting out I had caught a small chub.
However, the rest of the day was as dead as the proverbial dodo! Intending to fish on well into dark, I had a problem with my isotope. In fact the glass shattered! Still, as it was dark by 4.00 p.m., no way was I going to get back on the motorway at that time, so I carried on fishing, employing the touch legering method. It’s actually quite a thrill to feel the line pull as a fish mouths the bait.
Although once the sun set it became quite cold, the fish started to feed. Again though, no roach but a few decent chub. The last one was quite a good fish, as the photograph shows. Note though, from the photograph, that I still haven’t mastered my new camera! I am there in the photograph if you look closely! But you can see the fish and that’s what really counts. I have worked out the sunset enhancing mode though, as the very beautiful scene shot shows.
So to sum up the week – a stream of chub, but not one single roach apart from the lost fish. Disappointed? No way! I’m just more determined to catch myself a really good river roach. And once I truly crack the location code, then Mr Redfin had better watch out!
(Originally published December 2004)