Friday, 6 February 2009

Shy, by a Cats Whisker...

The big roach bug has bitten deep. I find myself drawn away from the warmth of a snug winter home and forced by urges beyond my control, to venture out into the snow, to catch them, or freeze in the attempt. I'd been toying with the idea of baiting the swims at Grassy Bend, where, on the scant evidence so far collected and collated, I believed my chances of a two pounder were not wholly unrealistic,
 and the ground bait I intended to employ would be hemp. Roach love hemp, as do all cyprininids, and it holds fish like nothing else. So I boiled up a panful, and froze the excess.

Walking the canal...

The canal was full of floating slush after the recent snowfalls, and looked somehow promising. At Grassy Bend the far bank had a rim of the stuff that had been broken up by a passing boat, and right on the edge of this slush was where I decided to cast my lobworms. I cast the two rods left and right, gave each position a couple of handfuls of hemp, and then settled back and prepared myself for the roach.

Almost as soon as I'd made myself comfortable a boat appeared, and that meant a complete rewind and recast to the same positions. The boat made its turn and of course the engines were given maximum thrust right over my baits positions, stirring the bed into a brown soup, which I thought might be the death of the swim. I added some more hemp and put the baits back exactly where they had been.

After an hour the water had cleared and I felt much better about my chances, but then another boat appeared and the whole daft shenanigans had to be repeated. Never mind, I did what had to be done and then sat back feeling that events were transpiring against and dooming me to a blank session.

This is becoming a regular scene...

Right in front, a large clear area had appeared where the boats had broken the ice slush, that extended right to the far bank, so I recast the left hand rod into this clearing to take advantage of the shelf, where I hoped the fish might patrol, but thirty minutes in and I had an overpowering urge to recast this rod once more, back to where it had been, but now to a precise point at the edge of the ice, that seemed somehow, right.

I don't question my instincts, I just follow them where they go. I put the bait at precisely the point I had divined as 'just so', and sat back to wait for the inevitable. Half an hour later the right hand rod was jarred by what I think was a line bite, which served to get me in concentration mode, hovering over the rod in anticipation. Almost as soon had I adopted my strike position over the right hand rod, the the left hand rod top rattled in tune with a positive bite.

I struck into a very solid resistance. A good fish, indeed a very good fish, and one that would not give in lightly. I had no idea what it was but the fight felt familiar, and when I saw a flash of silver blue, I knew it was not only a roach, but a big one. I became a little nervous at this point, as you do, and stupidly made the mistake of allowing the fish to head under the bank, where it got itself behind the net and tangled in some underwater stuff. I wasn't prepared to lose this fish, so I thrust the net under the 'stuff' and netted the lot.

On the bank, at first sight, the fish looked enormous. I thought it would just pass two pounds, but on the scales it made just one ounce short of that 'magical' target, at a firm, but reliable one-pound fifteen-eight. I even jiggled the lot just to extract the extra half-ounce, but it made no difference!

A roach in the net...

...a roach in the hand...

Personal best roach. Easily. And though I don't really like to indulge myself in them, actually worth the hassle of a trophy shot! This was proof positive of what I had started believing some way back, that not only could I catch big roach, but also that this particular spot on this canal would provide what the rivers seemed incapable of giving. I fished on for a while, and then headed home, not really wanting another fish regardless of size, to spoil this heady, intoxicating moment.

Right now I have no doubt whatsoever that this stretch of canal does hold the big roach I have been looking for. My only question is just how big, and how many? And that is a question that can only be answered in the fullness of time...

...and myself, a happy man!

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