Never had one of those in my net before (roach article, entry 135)

With the cold spell continuing, it was always going to be a struggle on the fishing front. And to cap it all I had the sniffles, a sore throat and a runny nose. Or in plain English – the man-flu! As I am no doubt addressing a predominantly male audience, then you know exactly what I was going through and how I suffered. Women will just never understand these things will they?

So, bravely fighting on, I loaded the car and drove to the banks of the Middle Severn to continue my quest for roach. The river itself was at normal winter level and minimal flow meant that in the peg I chose to fish, a small bomb was sufficient to hold bottom. As on my previous visits, I fished light and a size 20 hook completed the rig. The hook length was no more than four inches, ensuring that I was in direct contact with any roach that decided to play around with the bait.

Using brown crumb and dead maggots as feed, I moulded a small amount around the lead each time I cast out, thus ensuring an accurate placing of feed. Due to the cold weather I wasn’t looking at putting great amounts of bait out anyway, so a golf ball size quantity was ample with each cast.

It has been absolutely years since I last used a keep net. Due to the style of fishing I do anyway, I have no need for them. I usually end up catching just the odd decent fish (well, that’s the plan anyway) that gets weighed, photographed and returned. But because I have been using maggot lately and catching numbers of smaller fish, I have had concerns about released roach spooking the shoal. Some people say they do, others say not. I guess we don’t know really, but to be on the safe side I decided to get my keep net out of mothballs and take it with me.

If you read last week’s Angling Journal entry you will know that I had a visit from three very friendly male mallards. They were there again this week, except that as soon as I unfolded my net and laid it out in the margins, in jumped one of the ducks! Thinking it was a mistake and the bird would be frightened, I tried to coax it out with maggots. But as soon as it took the food, back it went into the net. I carried on fishing and left the bird to get on with it. It probably looked cruel to anyone passing by, but the bird was there of its own free will. I even had to forcibly evict it at the end of the day!

As far as the fishing went, in spite of the cold weather it was a case of regular bites throughout the session. Typical roach though, not every one was struck effectively. I would never make a match angler, as I am absolutely hopeless at catching small fish. Well, most of the time I am the same as far as big fish are concerned, so perhaps I ought to keep quiet.

I did get a regular trickle of fish though, not only roach but some nice dace as well. In addition I caught a bullhead. Only a small fish (well, the record is less than two ounces) but it took the single maggot fair and square. That’s one thing about fishing with maggots – you are broadening the horizons as far as variety is concerned. Let’s face it, you could fish with boilies for a million years and never catch a bullhead. Unless the boilie was 1mm I suppose, and imagine how many of those you would get to a lb base mix!

As the afternoon wore on, and the sun (what there is of it at this time of the year) began to set, it got quite chilly. One good thing about winter is that you can catch during the day. Summer fishing is great, but the middle of the day can be a real struggle. Yet at this time of the year, particularly in a mild spell, that can be by far the most productive time. And talking of mild spells, hopefully we will get one next week. We’re certainly due a change in the weather.

(Originally published February 2006)

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