You know it’s bad when the roach go quiet (roach, entry 492)

There was a venue I fancied doing some overnighters on for roach this winter but before I got the gear out for a dusk through dawn session I wanted to fish a few evenings first so that I could work out my approach in terms of tactics, rigs etc. So that’s exactly what my opening sessions are in this week’s article – exploratory.

Outing one saw me chucking a 20g cage feeder about 30 metres out into open water. Fishing a quiver tip, I tightened up and waited. The terminal tackle was a helicopter rig and bait double red maggots on a size 16 hook. Just a short session, I fished the last couple of hours or so of last light and then just into dark.

I had two surprises, the first being the daylight appearance of a daubenton’s bat out on a feeding mission. If you’re a UK angler that fishes during darkness on a regular basis I will guarantee you will have seen this species of bat, even if you didn’t know what it was. It’s the one that flies just above the surface of the water and takes insects off it.

A surprise rudd
A surprise rudd

The other surprise was a rudd. A surprise not only that it was unseasonal but that they are very rare in this venue. Well it proved to be the best fish of the session and although I had a few roach taps I didn’t bank any decent fish so it was back to the drawing board of my mind to give the venue some thought.

The successful rig
The successful rig

Back again, my main change was the rig. You can see it in the photograph above and working through the components they are as follows: 4lb Maxima mainline, Drennan leger stop, Drennan 20g cage feeder, Greys top rubber, Greys swivel, ESP mini boom, Hi Tech 2.5lb hook length, Drennan Super Specialist. Size 18.

Fishing a single red maggot and filling the cage feeder with the same I was fishing at a good 60 metres. I plugged the feeder with SBS sweet fruit groundbait and added a dash of whisky link to the mix. I had bites from the off and in spite of a couple of hook-pulls on good fish I still managed to bank some great looking roach.

A beautiful winter roach
A beautiful winter roach

I definitely felt that the rig set-up was the one that I’d use on my first overnighter. But instead of watching an isotope on a quiver tip I would go for the 1lb test curve option, fish two rods and use bite arms, light hangers and a pod. In fact I was so confident, I was really looking forward to my next visit, which would be to stay overnight.

All that sorted, as I packed away I spotted a couple of white-clawed crayfish in the margins. One of our most endangered native species I was glad of my policy of taking my camcorder everywhere with me. And you can see the fruits of that in one of my YouTube videos. I also saw a single daubenton’s and a single common pipistrelle. So a great few hours overall and a brilliant way to spend an early winter’s evening.

Look what I found in the margins
Look what I found in the margins

As I approached my first overnighter it coincided with a fall in both air and water temperatures, with the former being the most dramatic. The thermometer plunged to minus 2.5C and that was at just 7.00pm. With no bites at all during the night I spent the night in my sleeping bag. Even though I was only under a brolly shelter my five-season jumbo did its job

When I got back to the car in the morning I couldn’t resist etching a message on the windshield prior to getting it cleared. If you don’t know, I’m a season ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers. And I don’t really hate, it’s just a football thing! In fact on the football front, if you base my affection for a team on whether I would wear the shirt in public, you can add Leeds, Rangers and Rhyl FC to the list.

Message on a windshield
Message on a windshield

With the temperatures still well below zero I was back again the next night. The sudden drop in temperature continued to the point where the lake began to freeze. My focus switched from whether I would catch to if I could actually keep a bait in the water! Fortunately I managed to fish but for the second night on the trot I suffered a roach blank. In fairness though the fall in both air and water temperatures had been pretty dramatic in such a short period of time. You know it’s bad when even the roach go off the feed! I did manage to net a dusk perch though so I didn’t blank completely!

A perch avoided a blank
A perch avoided a blank

With a freezing cold spell well and truly bedded in, my plan was to get a couple of river sessions in. However, the only thing I caught was the flu. And I mean the proper job not just the so-called man-flu version. For well over a week I didn’t leave the house and just crashed out on the sofa in front of the fire and the TV. I lost 7lb in just three days and for the first time ever I missed a Wolves game on my season ticket, which we won. Mind you, I did get to see Rhyl FC play Aberystwyth Town live on Sgorio and that was a real classic.

Rhyl ran out 5-2 winners in the end. I sponsor a Rhyl FC player, Stefan Halewood, and that’s him in the shot below that I took from the TV screen. The game was a Welsh Cup fixture and with the draw being made live after the game I wanted to see Rhyl get The New Saints away. And that’s exactly what happened. I told myself I’d go along to that fixture, but then when I checked, Wolves are at home that day v Blackpool. Decisions, decisions…

Rhyl win on the road
Rhyl win on the road

I’m usually at least a week or so ahead of myself with my Angling Journal, but this prolonged (I’m still not right over a week later) spell of illness has meant I’ve caught up with everything. But it does look like the really cold spell is coming to an end so at least I will have a few more options over the next week. Mind you I don’t have the same flexibility as normal as we’ve just had some building work begun that means for a while we need to have someone in the house as anyone could literally just walk in.

Let the building work commence
Let the building work commence

If you’re out and about yourself over the next few days – tight lines. And if you take water temperatures, and you’re on twitter, why not share the info with your fellow anglers by using #watertemps? I started doing this recently and also adding any other relevant points such as water clarity, conditions etc. As well as on twitter I’m also posting the information on my facebook page (that’s one you ‘like’ rather than ‘friend’) so hopefully it will be an encouraging resource. You don’t need to give out specific locations, just general details. (published December 15 2012)