Some time back I was barbel fishing on the middle Severn, when I had a take right as I was getting ready to pack away. It put up minimal resistance and as I had to drop down the bank to net it, I wasn’t going to object if this small chub came off. Anyway it didn’t, so I duly made my way to the edge, landing net at the ready.
However, when the fish broke the surface I saw that it wasn’t a small chub but a very nice roach. I decided to weigh it and wasn’t surprised when it nudged the 2lb mark, although just the wrong side of it. I did store the encounter ‘up top’ though with the intention of some future visits. That future became the present this week.
With a couple of short day-time sessions planned, one from first-light and the other up to dark, I tried a few swims trying to locate some decent roach. I fished a cage feeder on both occasions with hemp, corn and maggots on the first outing and just maggots on the second. Bait on the first session was a grain of sweetcorn followed by a small worm.
I was trying to eliminate barbel. The dilemma targeting roach in a venue where barbel dominate is that it is pretty hard to pass them by. If I had too many issues my plan was to fish with bread, but then you get the same ‘problem’ but with chub. Anyway I did hook a barbel on both occasions. The first encounter is the one on the accompanying video. I got smashed.
I should have done my filming on the next visit though because on that session, against all the odds, I netted the fish. Fishing 4lb, that was the absolute maximum I wanted to go with line strength. You can’t use 8lb just in case you hook a barbel. For one, you’d just reel them in, but more importantly you would struggle for bites in the first place.
I did catch roach, but only small fish, and even banked a perch on the worm session. The biggies eluded me though, which of course involves no shame. Location is the key and with so many likely looking spots you just have to put the time in. And then of course, you have to catch them. That’s another story.
I’m a great believer in the obvious statement that you never catch sitting at home. I am perhaps a little more fortunate than most anglers in that I get out more than the average fisherman. It means I can give things a go; sometimes they come off but other times they don’t. How do you know though unless you do some exploring along the way.
My third session was on a local lake and very short, less than three hours in total. Fishing up to dark I went for worm on the hook to go all out to tempt a big roach. I caught one small one but loads of perch up to 8oz. I also had a pike on for a few moments as it hung on to a perch. Fortunately for the latter it didn’t get too much of a grip, so apart from a bruised ego, it survived.
Sessions four and five and still on a stillwater, but a different venue. I’ve fished there before, but for carp, not roach. I knew there were fish in there, but not how big they went to. Well, there’s only one way to find out and that’s to give it a go. The opening session saw me get a bite every cast, that’s how hectic it was.
Although my fishing is usually with a lead on the bottom, on this occasion I set up a float rod and a small waggler. With about seven feet (just over two metres) of water in front of me it was ideal. I do love float fishing, there’s something special about staring at a little red tip. When I was a kid that was all I did, but of course my styles, tactics and species have broadened over the years.
I fished with a size 12 hook and a single grain of corn. I put out a few balls of groundbait to create an attracting cloud in the swim and trickled in sweetcorn to keep them interested and feeding. I used a keepnet and at the end of the session had a nice splash as I lifted it from the water. As well as roach I caught rudd and some fish that were obviously hybrids.
In addition I also banked a small perch. It took the corn on the drop, obviously attracted by the colour. I once caught a tiny perch on a bare hook. I put the rod down and as the hook-length hit the water a fish took the hook itself, no doubt the minimal flash of the metal enticed it to strike. There can’t be a more greedy fish than a small perch.
The return visit to the pool wasn’t as productive though. In fact just three proper bites, resulting in two fish on the bank. At least I didn’t blank though and that’s always a good thing. Now that we’re leaving summer behind and heading into autumn the fish are still feeding well. Not too long to go though when we’ll be grateful for whatever comes along as water temperatures tumble.
I did well on the nature-front on the last two sessions, with a goshawk the highlight. That’s the second I’ve seen so far in 2013. Some years I don’t see any at all. I am a keen naturalist but as far as my birding is concerned I rarely go ‘chasing’. I also saw an elephant hawk-moth caterpillar and you can see that in the photo above.
No monster roach this week, but I’ve enjoyed myself and that’s what counts. Next week my plans are to do some barbel fishing on the River Severn, so why not check out my blog? You can also connect with my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts via the links on my angling website. (Published August 31 2013)