With my roach head still very much in place, I set off for a late evening session on the local canal. The good thing about fishing local waters is that you can have shorter sessions, and not feel guilty about using all that expensive petrol just for a few hours of fishing! And with the way the price of fuel is going at the moment, this is going to be a major factor for more and more anglers.
With such a selection of canal network available locally, I am literally spoilt for choice. But I did have in mind a stretch that I wanted to try for the first time, and leaving it fairly late so that the barges would be moored, I knew that I should be able to fish undisturbed. Apart from the drunks that stagger along the towpath – but that’s another story!
With the canal a standard construction, I fished the boat channel in about 4ft of water. It was a lovely warm evening and fishing up till 11.00 pm, I was in short sleeves all the way. Very soon that will be a thing of the past, as the colder weather draws in, but until then I am happy to make the most of it. Baiting up with brown/white crumb I fished bread on the hook, hoping to eliminate the huge shoals of gudgeon in residence, but also to separate the better quality roach.
I did have a regular trickle of bites, and as per roach fishing I hit some and missed others. You really do have to be on the ball when fishing for roach. It’s not like other species where you put the rod in the pod, lie back and then they let you know when they have hooked themselves. And that’s not criticising one style over another, but merely saying they are different.
I ended the night with a few decent sized fish, well decent enough for the canal anyway. Nothing over 1lb, but all very enjoyable to catch. And right at the end I caught a gudgeon! Still carrying a football injury I hobbled back to the car, and dragging my leg, I was like some of the drunks I had seen earlier in the session staggering along the towpath! With a number of canal-side pubs in the area, the canal path is a very direct short cut between the watering holes.
With more time to spare for the second session of the week, I set off for the River Severn below Worcester. Again fishing bread, I was hopeful of getting amongst some better quality fish. The canal offers quantity, but given the choice I would opt for quality any day of the week. The only angler as far as the eye could see, I settled in the peg that I had intended to fish.
Casting the cage feeder out I laid out a trail of crumb, which hopefully would draw some fish in. However it all went very slow, particularly during the daylight hours. All I had was the odd tap, certainly nothing that you would describe as a bite. But as the sun started to set, it appeared as if the river was coming alive from its slumber. A few missed bites gave me the confidence of knowing that the roach were around.
Then when I hit into a nice solid fish, I knew that I had connected with a decent roach. Unfortunately, after several seconds it came off. But regardless of what else would happen during the session, the fish gave me confidence of knowing that there is at least one good fish out there! The rest of the session was quiet as far as landed fish was concerned, just a few small ‘bits and pieces’, but I did net one good quality roach.
However, it turned out to be a bit of a comedy sketch. As I slipped the landing net with the fish into the shallows, I reached across to get my scales. In doing so I caught the central pole of my umbrella, which wasn’t fixed that deep in the bank due to the nature of the peg. As the umbrella fell into the water I had to quickly reach down and grab it to stop it drifting away. I did so, but in the commotion, the roach escaped from the landing net!
So no official weight and no photographs! It was a lovely looking deep fish, silver flank and red fins that would have made a good photograph. But instead it is just a memory. Although usually used in a different context, you could say it was the one that got away! And if you include the earlier lost fish that was a couple of roach that evaded me. Still, there’s always the next time!
(Originally published September 2005)