A change of tactics and the roach play ball (roach article and video, entry 439)

Click images above to enlarge

As we approach the middle of December and the days get shorter, even for someone like myself who has a lot of flexibility in their life, making the water’s edge before dark can be a bit of a struggle sometimes. And on the first session in this Angling Journal entry, as I was setting up I was doing so by torch light. And the pipistrelle bats were already out and feeding.

I was on a lake and fishing about 2.5 lengths out. The rig was simple (why complicate things unless we have to) and consisted of a short hook length of 3 inches created by a small shot and 5mm bead with the hook itself a size 14 Drennan Super Specialist and the lead a 1/4 ounce bomb. I was fishing a single grain of corn on the hook and baited up with brown crumb and corn. The corn I used is £1 a bag from my local supermarket!

It was a reasonably warm day, in fact unseasonably so, but it got quite chilly when the sun set. A lot of anglers think that when the sun sets at the end of the day and the air temperature plummets that so does the water. I’ve had many an angler pass me at dusk who made the comment that it’s gone cold now so the fish have stopped feeding. But the fact is that air and water temperature don’t rise and fall at the same rate. Whilst the latter will drop sharply, the reality is that the former won’t.

And on that, as the only bite of the night developed and I struck, after a short fight, I found myself netting a lovely plump crucian carp (photo 1). It reminded me of the daffodils I found in my garden that morning poking their way through the ground. Like the crucian, the mild spell had fooled them into thinking it was spring. Along with the rest of us though, they will soon realise it isn’t! So just the one fish, but this is typical of this particular venue. But as a specimen angler, quality over quantity suits me fine.

Packing away about 10.00pm I discovered that the lock on the gate had been changed and a new one put in its place. I won’t bore you with the details but the bottom line was that some people who had no authority to do so had decided to put their own lock on. I didn’t get angry or make a scene but I wasn’t going to sit around in my car until someone turned up. I eventually made my way out an hour and a half later so that was quite good really considering it didn’t look good initially. People eh!

Session two is the one that is featured on the accompanying video and as you can see, although I failed to catch a roach, I avoided a blank again this time courtesy of a few small perch up to dark. My approach was different in that I was fishing a cage feeder packed with brown crumb and live white maggots. The hook bait was a single maggot on a size 18 hook. I did get a few taps though so I knew the fish were out there, but unfortunately they were playing very hard to get.

In the video I said I would mention my camera and camcorder in the article. They’re both simple items that, relatively speaking, are cheap enough. My camera is a Nikon Coolpix and camcorder is a Sony Handycam. I’ve been using these for some years (got through several of each) and they serve me well. I do get asked from time to time what stuff I use and so it’s worth mentioning for anyone that may be interested. They may not be what the professionals would go for, but as an enthusiastic amateur they work for me.

Back on the venue, tactics and approach were the same as the previous visit ie cage feeder and maggots. I fished slightly further out, again with a quiver tip. I caught perch and roach which you can see in photographs 2 and 3. Not monster fish but I used the landing net so not that bad. I always think my angling through and for a while I have been looking at a totally different approach, and as with all things, whilst you can chew the theory, ultimately you have to swallow and put it into practice.

So on my next visit, there was a compete change. The single quiver tip rod was replaced by 2x 1lb test curve rods. Actually it was the same rod, a Fox Duolite, just assembled with the alternative section. I fished on bite alarms and used my trusty Nash Featherlite hangers, that serve me so well when going light. Apart from that, I was still using cage feeders filled with crumb, packed with maggots and a single white maggot on an 18 hook as the bait. I wanted to fish a little further out as that’s where the carp anglers cast.

I’m not saying none of them fish the margins, but from what I have seen they all seem to basically hit the middle of the lake. So with all that bait going in, it seems obvious that is where the big roach will also be found. After all, just because it has a picture of a carp on the boilie or bait packet, it doesn’t mean to say that roach won’t be interested. Well that was the theory anyway, plus a carper had told me that a couple of years ago he had seen a few anglers hitting the carp baited areas after roach.

It seems that a lot of the big roach have died. I have seen one big fish (2lb) dead in the margins and a couple of carp anglers also said they have found some dead fish as well. The drop-off in people fishing for the roach is probably explained by the decline. I have only seen one angler fishing specifically for them. But I know they’re there, albeit in less numbers maybe than recent years. But still there. It’s just a case of getting it right, and convinced my new approach was going to be a winner, it was with real excitement that I looked forward to my next visit to the lake.

My first fish came at dusk, which is when I started fishing. It was a perch, but a decent enough one (photo 4). But not the roach I was after. Then, into dark I had a blast on one of the bite alarms that saw me bringing a fish in that surely had to be my target species. But no, another perch. Again a nice fish but rather than a flash of silver break the surface instead it was green and black that greeted the landing net. I’m certainly not complaining though, to quote a popular social networking phrase – just saying.

But then I got amongst the roach. Well not in great numbers, but a handful of reasonable fish made me feel really positive about my change of tactics. And whatever the species, it’s always a buzz when a bite alarm goes off and you find yourself lifting into a fish. And when it’s a fish that you have been struggling to get to grips with, it certainly is a good feeling. And I’m petty convinced that I hadn’t just hit a good day but my decision to switch approach made the difference. Of course, time will tell. Can’t wait to get back and put my theory to the test!

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Watch the accompanying video

Stewart Bloor’s Angling Journal website


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