It was a spring-like day, as I set off southbound on the M5 to fish the Lower Severn. After such a prolonged cold spell, it was nice to get out in some decent weather – relatively speaking of course, as it was still all-in-one suit conditions! But for as much as it wasn’t too bad this side of the water, the reality was that beneath the surface it was still cold. Hence with the days ticking away before the river season ended, I decided to fish for roach rather than my other current campaign species, barbel.
I settled in a peg that I have fished on numerous occasions before, having caught a variety of fish – including the very elusive roach! Setting up at the side of the river, my mind went back to last autumn when I began my roach campaign. Little would I have imagined then that several months later I would be struggling to even catch a fish, never mind a decent one!
Casting my cage feeder out and allowing it to settle, I sat back with a certain amount of expectancy. But then again, when it comes to fishing, I am forever the optimist. And even when I blank, I always think to myself that there is always the next time! It was a few hours into the session before I had my first fish. A lovely roach-type bite and I found myself playing and netting a fin perfect fish of about 1.5 lb. The only problem is that it wasn’t a roach but a chub!
As my wife Debby constantly reminds me in situations like this though, ‘At least you haven’t blanked’. There obviously was a decent shoal of chub in the area where I fished, as over the remainder of the session I had regular bites and fish on the bank. None were particularly large though, and on more than one occasion I thought I had connected with a good roach. But each time, instead of a flash of red fins, a pair of big rubber lips greeted me as the fish broke the surface.
I fished on into darkness, and although air temperature fell considerably, the water rose by 1F. Certainly at this time of the year, I fish with my thermometer lead in the water and monitor it regularly. Knowing what is happening, particularly with temperature trend, can be very helpful as the session progresses. Adapting accordingly can often mean the difference between a fish and a blank. But of course, that’s the theory. On this occasion, the slight raise did nothing for me!
As this was my last river session of the season I definitely went out quietly. Certainly since the turn of the year, things have been quite slow. I’ve had a couple of cracking chub, several average barbel, but no decent roach. However, if I’d have called my roach campaign a chub one instead, then it wouldn’t be that bad really. I think the key to catching a specimen roach is to have a dace campaign next winter!
I would have liked to have gone for some end-of-season barbel over the last few weeks, but the conditions have not been ideal at all. I do respect single-species anglers, but personally I prefer to target fish according to the conditions. This doesn’t always go to plan of course, as my roach campaign has proved! But usually, switching fish is more effective than doggedly sticking to one, come what may.
Over the next month I am going to be fishing for big bream. And if I thought my roach campaign was hard, then that will be nothing compared to the pursuit of a big slab! I’m going to be on a big gravel pit that has the reputation of being a difficult venue. It is primarily a carp water, but as is often the case, the anglers catch the odd bream. Not that the ones I have spoken to appreciate that fact very much though!
And of course, who knows, I may even catch the occasional carp! But first and foremost I would like to net a decent bream. I am still waiting for my first double, so if I am fortunate to do that, then the ‘frustrations’ of the winter spent chasing roach will be a distant memory! Either way, one thing is for sure – I will definitely enjoy the journey. And that really is what angling is all about at the end of the day isn’t it?
One thing I always do with my angling writing is to ‘tell it as it is’. If I catch something good, I’ll write about it, but on the other hand, if I struggle then that will get told too. I don’t see the point in trying to be something that you aren’t. Anyway, just in case I do struggle with my bream campaign, at least I’m making my excuses now! I guess the only way is to wait and see what the next few weeks hold. I’m looking forward to it already.
(Originally published March 2005)