Finding the back of the net against all the odds (roach article, entry 391)

As this is my first article of 2011, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy new year and may you enjoy a peaceful and blessed twelve months. And of course as an angler may all your sessions be fish-filled. However, on that front it may be a while before we experience that as an ongoing reality, as we are still very much in the grip of the worst winter for a century. Although the weather at the start of the year was an improvement on what we experienced in November and December, it will still take some considerable time for the effects to wear off – and that’s assuming we don’t go backwards which of course is a very big assumption. But as far as I’m concerned you just get on with it. Yes, you have to think your angling through very carefully and target the right species on the right venue, but you never catch unless you have a bait in the water.


My local river is the Black Country Stour (left) and whilst it may not have the attraction in terms of big fish that many others have, it is a good winter venue. Apart from species such as dace, roach and chub it also runs consistently higher in temperature than the River Severn. A couple of degrees in summer is neither here nor there, but when the going gets really tough, it makes all the difference. Plus with the ever-increasing cost of fuel, if you fish as often as I do then you need somewhere on your doorstep for the short sessions. Long gone are the days when I could justify driving a couple of hundred miles for an afternoon somewhere. Now it’s all about cost-effectiveness and value for money. Hence a short drive and I’m on the bank of the Stour, set up, cast out and watching a quiver tip. The spot I fished in is one I have done so before but not for a few years. As darkness drew in I started to get a few taps, but instead of moving on from there, that was it and proved to be the only excitement of the day.

My approach was the same as I used on the other session recorded in this article. Fishing 2.5lb mainline straight through I used a 20g cage feeder with a hooklength of four inches created by a small shot and a 5mm bead. A hook of either size 18 or 16 completed this very simple rig, which is one that has served me well on the Stour and elsewhere. Whilst I do give a lot of thought to my fishing, my approach is to keep it simple and then to fine tune if necessary, as opposed to making it complicated from the beginning when there’s no need to. Bait was white maggot and the cage feeder was filled with brown crumb/white groundbait and of course maggots.


Before my next session I was at Molineux for the first home game of the season. We started the match against Chelsea firmly rooted at the bottom of the table, but we pulled off a historic victory that saw us climb out of the relegation zone, courtesy of other results that night. I’m a season ticket holder in the South Bank and the photograph on the left was taken just as the ball went in the back of the Chelsea net. And the one on the right is the scene in the crowd as the final whistle went. I was as high as a red kite as I left the ground, and even the snapped clutch cable on the way back home couldn’t take away from the feelings of elation. Supporting your team is like fishing in many ways really, you have to stay faithful and not give up when the going gets tough

On the way back from games I put the radio on and when we have lost the callers come out with the same stuff, ‘McCarthy’s got to go’, ‘He’s taken us as far as he can, bring Big Sam in’, (that’s the current one) ‘The board needs to spend some money’ etc. Apart from the fact that most of them haven’t even been to the game, the next week the same people are singing the praises of the manager, saying how great we are and how they always knew it would come good in the end. Just like some anglers, who fish a new place, have a blank, and it’s a case of ‘There’s no fish in here the otters / eastern Europeans / cormorants have taken them all’, ‘I must have had a pike in my swim’ or ‘This venue has had its day’. But if they had caught well then it would be the best place in the world and ‘Where do I buy a lifetime season ticket?’


My own devotion to angling is without question. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And I was back on the Stour for session two hoping to get my first fish of the new year. This time I was further upstream by a few miles but with the same confidence and self-belief. Casting my cage feeder out I had to wait a while before I had my first knocks and then to eventually connect with my 2011 debut roach. That’s it on the right. I wouldn’t normally take a photograph of such a small fish, but apart from being the opener for the year, I didn’t know if I would get any more that night. Confidence is an important part of angling but ultimately faith in itself won’t put fish on the bank. You have to be realistic as well. But I needn’t have worried as I added a few more during the session. And although they weren’t massive fish, I used the landing net for a couple of them (pictured below), as I didn’t want to lose them by swinging them in. Cue the title of this week’s article as both Wolves and I share in common the fact that we found the back of the net when the odds were against us.



Considering the conditions that we have been through, and indeed still enduring, I was happy enough with my roach from the Stour. As with any fish it’s not so much the weight of what you catch but how it ties in with the venue. In other words, as an example, a 12oz roach may be small for some places but for others it’s a specimen. And then there’s the enjoyment factor. There’s no point in catching big fish if you’re not enjoying it and you’re spurred on by an obsession to catch bigger and better rather than pleasure and personal satisfaction.

If you’re on twitter or facebook then you can connect with me via the links below. I have a dual social networking presence and my accounts are linked together. I tweet on the go, including from the water’s edge, and then when I’m on the computer I add some meat to the bones. And finally, check out the home page of the website for the January competition. There are two tickets for the middle Severn up for grabs. You just have to answer a question and then you’re in the mix with as much chance as anyone. Tight lines! (Article published January 7 2011)


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