Three hundred not out (roach article and video, entry 301)

Three hundred not out

They say that time flies. No-one knows who ‘they’ are of course, but I’m sure that all of us can wholeheartedly agree with that statement. It only seems like five minutes ago when I was considering launching an angling website where I could write about my exploits on a weekly basis. I gave it some thought and weighed up all the pros and cons before eventually deciding to go ahead with it. I can actually remember the pivotal moment. I was driving back from an evening session on a Shropshire lake after tench, and so that week’s angling formed the basis for the very first Angling Journal entry. That was July 2003, and here I am in April 2009 writing what will be the 300th article to be published. *301!*

 

Targeting roach

 

If you are a regular reader of the site you will be aware that I have spent some time on the local Staffs/Worcs Canal in recent months after perch. When I’ve been livebaiting I have fished with a small waggler float and maggot in order to catch small gudgeon. On one particular stretch that I fished for the first time, I ended up with some nice roach, and also some good fish that I lost due to hook pulls or not connecting properly.

Like most anglers, I am sure, I made a mental note of what had gone on and promised myself that I would return to the section and target the roach. And that’s what I decided to do this week, and with three sessions to go at, I felt that would give me a reasonable chance of connecting with something decent. With all the trips being late evening, I intended to fish through dusk and into darkness. With boat traffic now increasing by the week, day-time proper angling is off until the autumn.

 
 

 

 

Decline in anglers but not fish quality

Not so long ago, the local canals were well fished by anglers, with both matches and pleasure sessions accounting for a considerable number of rod hours racked up each week. In fact I can remember the time when if you wanted to fish a BAA section on a Saturday or Sunday, you definitely had to check the local newspaper to see what bits were taken, as there were always club contests being held, as well as opens. But a check on the BAA website (which I have just done) shows that only the odd stretch is now taken on weekends and nothing at all in the week. It doesn’t mean to say that less people are fishing, quite the opposite in fact. The advent of the commercial fishery has merely diverted the venue to which the competition / pleasure angler heads.

But ironically, although less anglers are on the canals, I think that the quality of fishing has improved. As a kid growing up in the area, the local canals were either polluted or else they were populated with shoals of small gudgeon. And that was the very first fish I caught – a gudgeon from the Staffs/Worcs Canal at The Bratch, near Wombourne in Staffordshire. But now, even for the specimen angler, the canals are definitely worth fishing. It’s not just about quantity any more, but there are some really good quality fish to be found.

 

 

 

A long walk and I’ve got the section to myself

The section of canal that I fished is a very long walk from the nearest access point, and as would be expected, shows no sign of other anglers at all. The vegetation has not even been trampled and the only obvious peg is the one that I have now fished a few times. Although all fish have an inbuilt wariness, the ones that live here don’t have the added difficulty, as far as I’m concerned, of having that cautiousness due to being caught that often.

In fact the fish that I have had from there have all been fin perfect and show not even the slightest indication that they have been caught, whether by keepnet or unhooking abuse. I know people may criticise me for making that statement, but let’s be honest, it does happen. On some waters the appearance of the fish is a disgrace due to ‘anglers’ having no respect for their quarry.

A nice roach to end the week with

The first couple of visits produced some nice roach and a few chub – another species that is now well established in the Staffs/Worcs Canal. But it was to be into dark on the third and final session before I caught what I was really after – a good roach. What a joy it was to see the fish come to the net and an even greater one to lift it from the water (thankfully I haven’t lost that many good fish at the net, but I know what it’s like to do so). It certainly gave me a lift and although you can catch much bigger fish from other waters (because you know they are there) it gave me a real buzz having caught it from somewhere that I had ‘discovered’ myself.

This week’s video

Click the icon above

(Originally published April 2009)

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