Thursday, 3 February 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - Nothing for Something

You may have noticed in recent posts that I am now the owner of a pair of buzzers? Well, I haven't used buzzers in decades - the last buzzers I owned were a pair of the first Optonics ever to hit the shops in the early eighties. At the time they were a revelation to those inured to the struggle with Heron buzzers and their ilk, of which I'd a home-made pair built at great labour expense and ingeniously I thought, out of ex-GPO telephony components and bean cans, deliberately designed to equal the remarkable ineffectiveness of the originals...

With Optonics, all of a sudden you could go fishing and play about with your buzzers all day long ~

bip, bip, bipidibipibibip, bip, bip, bip

Ooohhh. Heavenly!


And they looked fabulous on the bank. Great crowds of anglers would gather behind them and wait, and wait, and wait...

On my favourite carp lake (South Weald) the local starlings quickly perfected a startling imitation of the novel sound, convincing everyone around that far more carp were being caught than actually were.

NO fish were being caught for Christsake, it was the summer of 81!

They wouldn't get caught in numbers till autumn of the same year just after the publication of The Venerable Maddocks', Carp Fever ...

Of course as with all novelties the fascination wears off in time. The Optonics got lost somewhere between my first stint of carping, 79 - 83 and my second stint, 93 - 98 and were never replaced - I just used to wind off the clutch on the reel, wait for the screamer indicated by the swinger hitting the rod with the force of the run, strike with my hand over the spool, hang on for dear life as the fish tried to smash into the reeds, turn its head and then wind the clutch up and conclude affairs. I never slept on the job...

Funny thing is, the first thing that happens to me now when I'm down the cut after roach and I set up the paired rods and reels on matching worm screw banksticks and buzzers (no pod, yet) is that as soon as I sit back in the chair, I fall asleep almost immediately.

It happened again yesterday afternoon. I set up, cast out my lobworms, one off the far shelf, one in the boat track, adjusted everything nicely and then ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz....... next thing, I come around with a groggy sense of time and space and find I have been asleep for all of twenty seconds. It happened over, and over, and over, It was uncontrollable. And worse, every single bleep of the things (no real bites as yet, just wind) scared me half to death, bringing me rather too abruptly out of my lulls.

I sat at that first swim for just an hour but it seemed like three. I couldn't stand it in the end as I was getting peeved by the lack of bites and wanted so much to hear those buzzers sing, so I upped sticks and went down to Grassy Bend where I thought I might have half a chance of something. Here the warm brisk wind blowing straight down the quarter mile straight I had just left had pushed all the remaining chunks of ice into a jam round the bend, and just off and along from this feature was where I cast my baits.

Remarkably, within ten minutes the left hand buzzer bleeped into life, the bobbin rose quickly to the blank and I struck into a good fish. Unfortunately, I never got to see what it was as the hooked pinged out before I could get it to the surface. No sleep now! A further five minutes and the right hand rod went off on a funny, twitchy, up and down kind bite that the two tone indicators indicated with a din akin to a brat child circa Xmas 1970 winding everyone up with his new Stylophone, suggesting that the running paternoster had somehow tangled and become fixed, the fish towing the lead around behind it, so I wound down and sure enough the fish had hooked itself.

What I first thought I saw was a very good roach, but then, in the net, that delicious illusion fell away to be replaced with the even tastier prospect (what's better than a good roach?) of, a clonking great silver bream...

Well, I quickly performed fin ray counts and scale counts and eye measurements and hmmmed a lot as I deliberated, and then, still undecided, took a snap, weighed the fish at exactly a pound and half, put it in the keepnet, recast the rod and then sat down to examine the photographic evidence at my leisure.

Just as I did a gust of wind blew across both bobbins and lines causing a further cacaphony of two toners but one failed to settle back and rose to the blank. Fish on! But it were just a little stripey perch of a half a pound or so. Booo..

In the next hour I had three more bites, all odd. I failed to connect with any of them and one was a liner, I'm sure. I packed up at six o'cock in complete darkness, the wind increasing, the rain now falling and my brain frazzled by the buzzers insistent call. I should have turned them off with that much action going on and just watched the rod tops - a discipline I'm well used to. But hey, that's why I got the buzzers in the first place - to relieve the strain of watching motionless quiver tips for hours on end, up the cut, after the big roach.

Why get a dog and bark yourself?

At home the first thing I did was upload the pictures of the fish and establish its authenticity.

Not a roach, although viewed by cursory glance with its reddish fins, silvery flanks and large scales it could easily pas for one, and certainly not a bream which left only two possibilities, but, unfortunately, of the two it turned out to be the wrong'un. Under scrutiny it was clearly and decisively a roach x bream hybrid, and sadly, not the hoped for silver monster.

I'D silver bream

As a roach this would have earned me 35%, an increase of just two percentage points over my current best, but as a silver bream it would have turned in an unassailable 51%, well, unassailable round these parts anyhow. A nice fish all the same and I'm glad to have caught it but it's one that earns me nothing on the challenge scoreboard as hybrids don't count, I'm afraid.

A case of nothing for something, I guess...


  1. What was the failed criteria on the ID of the above fish please Jeff?

    I reckon the eye's too small and it doesn't look 'silvery' enough but neither of those are very objective.

  2. Yep, the eyes too small, it should be a quarter of the length of the head rather than a fifth, the scales should be a bright chromium silver and the lateral line scale count between anal and tail fin should be 7-8 and not 11 as it here.

    Not so easy to appreciate all this on the bank though!

  3. Unlucky Jeff, that would have been another "bloggers impossible" if it weren't a wrong un!

    Have to agree the eye, the scale count especially on the tail wrist, plus the look of the fish in general point to hybrid in my view -still a nice fish though.