Friday, 3 December 2010

River Roach - Small Stream Adventures - Roach Reprise

What with the canal frozen solid for the last week or more and no near future chance of getting out to my big river venue of choice, there simply was no question about where I would end up next. Tackle was pared down to the bare minimum - a quiver in which I stowed a Shakespeare 9ft wand teamed to an Okuma Centrepin, 4lb line, ten foot net pole, one tripod seat, two bank sticks, one for the camera, one for the keepnet and a net bag containing the two nets and a half loaf of Warburtons Blue. The only other necessaries were split-shot, bb, and hooks, barbed size twelve.

The stream, for those who may not have followed my red finned adventures there, winter last, is really little more than a ditch in places, averaging just four or five feet bank to bank in normal winter flow and can be jumped right across in summer when the water is low. Today the water turned out to be worryingly clear and that would, I was certain, make life very difficult until the light began to fail nearer dusk as river roach, being the most careful of fish when it comes to exposure to dangers real or imagined, are notoriously light sensitive and loath to feed when values are too high for comfort.

The approach I have to this place is one of stealth; keeping well back from the skyline and conducting my activities silently. The bait is freelined a few yards downstream with a shot or two attached six inches up the line to sink the buoyant bait. All fish caught are stashed in a keepnet laid out in a place that is well away from the three or four swims that may, on the day contain a head of roach and this is done to ensure that returnees cannot spook the rest of the shoal, which in such confines as this would be the certain result without the use of one. This is catch and release, later. It has to be.

Bites were, as predicted, ridiculously difficult to hook up to. Impossible I thought, until I finally did. A small roach of half a pound that gave quite a spectacular account of itself on the ultra light tackle. They were certainly interested in the bread but knocked it to pieces and whittled it down rather than take a decisive gulp, hook and all. It was frustrating, but as the light fell I moved along just ten yards or so to a spot that from experience I calculated would be where the majority of the shoal were now sitting, mopping up the crumbs of dislodged bait swept downstream in the sluggish current.

the frozen net...

Here I fared much better and in the hour around darkness and until I could no longer see the rod tip I received increasingly strident bites as the fish became emboldened by the apparent safety of darkness and winkled out a further five roach, each perfect in fin and scale, with the best brace at a pound or so apiece. I packed down long before they'd had it with feeding but I just had to call it a day when I could not bait the hook, my fingers numbed by the constant rebaiting and handling of fish.

I managed the taking of the obligatory trophy shot hobbled somewhat by the fact that in handling the wet net and setting up the camera upon an alloy bankstick that was so very cold that it stuck to my fingers and threatened to pull away flesh, I'd got to the stage where I couldn't feel my hands at all and camera operations were accomplished with brute force, manual dexterity having long departed...

I marched home through the freezing fields and crystaline air, glowing with the warmth that comes from a day's successful roaching.

My fingers eventually got some of it too...


  1. Nice fishing - i thought you were mad - now i know it!!

  2. Beautiful Redfins, well done and thanks for sharing.

    I am hoping to achieve something similar this winter.

  3. I'm still amazed at the quality of Roach you're getting out of there. Another cracking little catch.

    I'm also surprised you haven't been mugged for your tackle yet!

  4. Brilliant, Jeff - the best bit of inspiration I could have to knock me out of my predator blinkers. Off to the river for me with the quiver next for me I think.

  5. Steve in Colorado4 December 2010 at 02:06

    Freezing cold + catching fish = OK!
    Freezing cold - catching fish = OY!
    You're an inspiration, Jeff-
    you mad bugger!

  6. Thanks Jeff for the inspiration to get out(as soon as the back roads are clear)to the river for the roach. the Idle is calling.

  7. I fished small spring fed pond yesterday though a gap the ice and caught roach to 12oz and rudd to 8oz, chipping ice of the rod rings as I went. It's the best time.