Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - It Never Rains

Roach are the most infuriating of fish. Go to a commercial fishery and chuck in a handful of maggots and they'll be a net full of sub pounders by tea time but go to a river and do the same and it won't work most of the the time, unless it's a day when it does work of course, just to make matters worse.

The canal however is another matter entirely. Use maggots on the Coventry Canal and you may catch a roach or two in any given month amongst a ton of perch but you won't have fun. I know, I keep a tally, not of my results with maggots as I don't use them much on the canal anymore but of the catches of others.

'Catching mate?' I'll ask any angler I see, and maggots are always the standard bait. 'Yep, a few skimmers and plenty of perch' is the inevitable reply. 'Any roach perchance?' I ask, knowing the answer before it's uttered. 'Nah, not had a roach in ages' is the glumly predictable response.

Yet, the canal is full of them. Loads of them. Dirty great stinking shoals of them. With proper big un's amongst em.

Here's my list of Canal roach starting with the biggest and ending up in poundland.

1:15, 1:13, 1:08. 1:08, 1:06, 1:05, 1:04, 1:04, 1:04, 1:04, 1:04, 1:03, 1:03, 1:03, 1:03, 1:03, 1:03, 1:02, 1:02, 1:02, 1:02, 1:02, 1:02, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:01, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00...

Remarkably the list goes into sharp reverse as we get into sub poundland with smaller fish becoming rarer and rarer. A three ounce roach is a catch every bit as as uncommon as a fish over a pound and a half. And that's all wrong. Surely?

A recent success with a bread punch fished over mashed bread groundbait approach has had a chequered history since with a few sessions 'got in' but not much luck had. The other day I had another crack at it. I set up as usual in the same swim as usual and chucked in one slice of mashed bread as before.  Predictably, the first bite came after twenty minutes but was missed. Not unusual.

What was unusual was that the bites then ramped up in frequency and intensity till the point came when the bait would not reach the bottom of the boat track without a fish intercepting it. However, I simply could not connect no matter what I tried. Then it started to rain...

The bites promptly stopped only to return twenty minutes into the shower. Still I could not hit a bite, not that I particularly wanted to given the intensity of the downpour outside the brolly - I reckon that more rain fell in the one hour of the duration of this shower than has fallen in the entire year so far and the same can be said of bites from canal roach!

Eventually, after resisting the idea that my swim was chock full of tiny fish that simply could not get the bait in, I connected with a fish that proved that all along it was the cagey average sized canal roach that were providing me with such frustration...

I did enjoy myself though, as there's something rather pleasant about the private world under a fishing umbrella in a proper deluge, despite all the hair pulling and teeth gnashing over the contrary nature of Rutilus rutilus.


  1. Have you finally found your Jack Pike beany hat Hatt!?

  2. No keith, I had to buy a new one even though Judy assures me that the lost one is 'in the house somewhere...'

    A proper fishing hat. Just needs aging with a load of fish slime, groundbait and other anglers muck and it'll be just as good as the old one.