By-pass the starter and straight to the main meal (roach article and video, entry 428)

Click images above to enlarge

One species that I do intend devoting more time to in the near future is the roach. If you read my Angling Journal regularly you will know that I do fish for them a number of times in the year, but I’m going to step up a gear on that. Heading for a local lake for an evening session, I was hopeful of getting amongst some fish. In the video I go through my bait approach and with a single grain of corn on the hook, my confidence was high that I would pick up a decent roach or two.

I fished a single rod, which is my favourite for roach and perch – a Fox Duolite Specialist. I do own a couple of these; I managed to get a really good deal on the internet a couple of years back. I bought them specifically for smaller species and they have been brilliant. I fished with a 1oz glass insert and my Okuma Zeon was loaded with 4lb Maxima. I recently had a problem with one of my Okuma reels. One of the handle components is plastic and it split while out on a session.

I contacted Okuma in the Far East by email and their reply was very quick, giving me an email for closer to home in Europe. Within a short time I had the part dropping through the door via the mailman. I don’t have a problem necessarily when stuff breaks, as these things happen. Any issue I would have is when the attitude is ‘We’ve sold it and now we don’t care’. But full credit to Okuma, they were excellent. It’s easy to moan and groan and there are threads on angling forums dedicated to negativity. So I’m happy to redress the balance a little.

With a small 1/4oz lead and a size 10 hook, a hook length of about three inches saw me well connected to whatever was going on beneath the surface. I started off with a few plucks and was quite hopeful. But sadly nothing developed. But with everything as it was before, even down to the size 6 shot and 5mm bead to create the hook length, I was back for session two. The dry day of the previous session was replaced by a showery one. A little bit of rain and I had the place pretty much to myself.

Again I had taps and slight movement but it was almost on dark when the tip did some serious pulling. Striking into a fish I was more than happy to see the flash of silver in the clear water as it made its way to the landing net. That’s the fish that you can see in photo 1 above. Sadly I had no more, but this is what I like about this lake: you get quality over quantity, which is my type of fishing. I know dozens of venues with stunted roach where you get a bite every cast, so to fish somewhere that holds fewer but bigger is what I want.

On the nature font I was incredibly excited to find our native white-clawed crayfish in the rocky margins. I had my net in the water and one had actually crawled into it. They are extremely protected but as it was in there anyway I decided to film it as it made its way out and back into the water. You can see that in the accompanying video and photo 2 is of the creature. It joined its numerous brothers and sisters who were quite active along the edges of the water. With some big perch in there they won’t venture too far out I’m sure.

Session three was another short evening session of three hours. I tried a different swim and fished a single grain over loose corn that I had added some whisky link to – in effect flavoured corn. Although I had a few taps at dusk nothing developed and I ended with a blank. You may wonder why I share fish-less sessions, well I cover that in the video. It’s about being honest of course, but what I want to communicate is that angling, never mind specimen angling, isn’t about turning up and catching 10lb barbel, 2lb roach, 3lb perch or whatever every cast. I’m not interested in what impression other angling writers may give, all I’m saying is that this is me. I do catch some nice fish, but along the way there are some blanks.

No session is ever a waste of time though and apart from fishing being a constant learning curve, I again observed the white-clawed crayfish as they came alive from once darkness descended. I also noticed a water mint in bloom on the edge of the lake that you can see in photograph 3. In fact, in reference to the crayfish, I counted 36 of them in the two metres of bank space in front of me. And as they were concentrated in the margins, no more than a metre from the bank, it was pretty busy down there as they were all active. Having done a lot of travelling in the past, I’ve seen the African Big Five in their native environment, yet I still get more excited when observing our native species. I just love British wildlife.

My final trip to the lake was again a short evening session and with the weather looking very autumnal combined with the school holidays being over, not only did I pretty much have the lake to myself but the number of walkers sharply decreased as well. Just as much as a bit of sun brings the hordes out, the reverse is also true. This time I changed my tactics slightly. Fishing a little further out in deep water I used a small cage feeder and with double white maggot as bait, I switched to a size 16 hook. I also put together a groundbait mix that consisted of 4 cups of brown crumb and a third of a cup of white crumb, wheat and Nitro Mix (Vitaflake).

At the venue, once I added the water I also tipped in a small amount of Phaze dip. This gave the mix a specific identity and although it is primarily a dip for Phaze boilies, it certainly fits the bill for roach as far as I’m concerned. And adding it to a groundbait mix is just another use for it. You can see the inside of my bait bucket in photograph 5, the Phaze gave it a red appearance. But the big difference was in the smell. It reminds me of the glass bottles of Corona cherryade we bought as a kid. Quality pop and quality bait. In fact being involved with SBS Baits is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I love ingredients and experimenting with things, and of course when it comes right it gives you a real sense of achievement.

So did it come right for me? Well, yes and no, depending on how you see it. I didn’t catch a roach but after the fourth cast I had non-stop perch action. Of course, using maggot as bait meant that the perch muscled in and the roach didn’t get a look in. Even though the groundbait wasn’t what I would have put together if after perch, they didn’t care. They simply by-passed the starter and went for the main meal. Typical perch eh! You have to love their direct approach to life. If they were kids you wouldn’t have to bribe them to eat their food would you?

Some of the fish were a decent enough size and that’s one of them in photograph 4. That I am after one species and catch another doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Yes of course I want to catch my target fish, as I am a focused angler, but I certainly didn’t go home disappointed that I’d caught a load of perch and no roach. As I have so often said, there’s no such thing as a nuisance fish. And I mean that, it’s not just a sound bite.

Finally, I’m always happy to correspond with people and use my facebook page (link below) for that. So if you have any questions or comments then fire away. So that I can keep track of everything and not be spread all over the place, that’s the place I have designated to communicate with people. With so many avenues of communication these days, I prefer to keep everything in one place. Plus, via my twitter account, my facebook page gets updates from the water’s edge when I’m out and about. Apart from when I’m busy catching fish, which was the case in this last session in the article. But generally the sort of fishing I do allows me to tweet, which is no more than sending a text. (September 24 2011)


This week’s video that accompanies the article:


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