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As I explain at the start of the accompanying video, the first session in this week’s roach article was originally intended as a perch outing. But with flexibility the name of the game I was soon by the side of the lake casting out a single grain of corn as opposed to a bunch of red maggots. It is a venue that I have fished recently and caught roach from. But my opening trip this time proved to be a blank. I did have a number of taps and plucks though and one really good pull that unfortunately I missed. As dusk drew in I noticed some movement in the margins and positioning myself to get a better look without spooking whatever it was, I observed a 2lb perch.
It was no doubt after my pets, the white-clawed crayfish. Along with moorhens and a roosting grey heron they feature as my nature spots on the video. The moorhen that you can see feeding on the bank is a juvenile by the way, in case you are wondering what it is. But the nature highlight was definitely the crayfish. I had dropped some groundbait mix in the margins and they were on it as soon as they emerged from their daytime cover. They are brilliant creatures to observe and I feel really blessed to have come across such a thriving colony.
The fishing though wasn’t as exciting and by the time I packed away the weather had taken a serious downturn. By the time I got back to the car I was wet and ready for home and some food. But hardly discouraged I was back on the venue a few days later. Like anywhere else, it has its own identity, and I’m finding that out each session that I do. I changed my tactics for not only the second outing but also the third as well, switching to a cage feeder approach and double white maggot on the hook.
It certainly worked, but not for my target species though. I caught a number of perch and some of them quite decent as you can see from photograph 1 above. Even though I wanted to get amongst the roach I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I was disappointed because I wasn’t. There’s no such thing as a nuisance fish in my book. But it is nice to actually catch the species that you are setting out to engage with. That’s all. Plus I find I fish better when I am focused.
The perch were all taken up to dark and even beyond, although not by much as they aren’t really nocturnal feeders. There will always be exceptions of course, I’ve had them in the early hours when fishing worm for eels, but in the main they go pretty quite once darkness descends. I did have a few taps on maggot, but no roach made their way to the bank. I wasn’t discouraged though, I’ve already worked out that this venue has quantity over quality, and that suits me perfectly.
And location is going to be an even bigger factor than normal due to the fact that the roach aren’t spread out in one enormous shoal that covers the lake. And it’s the location factor plus tactics, bait and so on that had me thinking prior to my next trip. With short evening sessions being the name of the game, I am able to squeeze a lot in, and still only spend as much time on the bank as the average angler does when he goes on a typical trip. But it’s better to fish for 3 hours at prime time as opposed to sitting around all day when the fish aren’t really feeding.
With a totally different approach I found myself setting up an hour before dark on a Friday evening. Roach fishing is about as wild as my weekends get. Fishing a single grain of corn on a size 10 hook, my mainline was 2.5lb and the hooklength of 2.5 inches was created by a small shot and a 5mm bead. The ¼ ounce lead was sufficient to cast a couple of lengths out and then hold while I tightened the line.
I catapulted hemp that had been flavoured with SBS corn dip. Although we think of boilie dips as exactly that – a flavour to soak boilies in – they are in fact much more. I use them to flavour crumb, hemp and other such things. In fact the sky is the limit. As I write I’ve got hemp in my bait freezer that has had corn and Phaze dip added (individual not mixed). As they freeze, the seeds will take on the flavour. I’m a big believer in additives and ingredients. And even if they are simply a confidence thing (although I believe they are a lot more than that) then as we know, that is a big part of angling. In other words even at their very least, no harm done. Nothing to lose and lots to gain.
I had just the one take and that resulted in the magnificent fish that you can see in photo 2. At 33 ounces that translates into a wonderful fish of 2lb 1oz. I know that there are anglers who catch 3lb’ers every cast, not to mention the ones with magical scales, but in my world a roach of 2lb is a truly wonderful specimen. After several roach blanks, some anglers may have considered giving up or at least moving on. But I knew it would come good. And what a way to do so. Needless to say I was back on there a few days later at the earliest opportunity.
My approach and tactics were identical, even down to being in the same swim. After several sessions that were hard going, then if I had located some decent fish I wanted to make the most of it. It was a beautiful evening as I set up, very much like the middle of June rather than the month of October. Catapulting hemp and corn on arrival I then got everything set up before finally casting out and settling back to watch the rod tip. In this instance it was a 1oz glass insert, and as it was into dusk when I arrived, I also attached the isotope to it as well. As far as lighting is concerned, an isotope and a headtorch are essential ingredients on this sort of session into dark.
I almost had to do without the latter though, as it ended up in my landing net and in the water. Don’t ask! But amazingly it was still working in spite of being baptised by full immersion in 2 feet of water for 10 minutes. But rather than this mishap signal a downward spiral it was all onwards and upwards. I caught a few roach and there’s three of them in photo 5. Not monsters but all needing the landing net. But in the absence of a real big red fin, the highlight of the evening was the capture of a couple of crucian carp that you can see in photos 3 and 4. If you read my Angling Journal regularly then you will know that I had several futile sessions for them earlier in the year. So it was sort of ironic to catch a couple while after roach in October.
Not that I’m complaining. Even if I am focused on one species when I go fishing, netting a pair of crucian crackers is not much of a hardship is it! I really enjoyed the session and as always left the venue wanting more. I will be back, but in the meantime I have other fish to fry. Not literally of course. Apart from being a vegetarian on the basis of if it lives I don’t eat it, I photograph all my fish and then return them to the water anyway. Even though I am constantly asked by people passing by if I have caught my supper.
As well as the fish and the ever-present white-clawed crayfish, I was entertained by numerous pipistrelles and one or two Daubenton’s, with the latter skimming the surface of the lake as they hunted insects in the mild evening. Then on the way home I saw a badger quite close to where I live. I was on the look-out in the area as I do see badgers quite often. I’m pretty much aware of all the setts in our locality and I’m sure that many of our residents would be surprised if they knew just what was on their doorstep. Literally. (Published October 2011)