Sunday, 15 April 2012

Stillwater Roach & Perch - Master Caster

Off to gloucestershire for the day. Last trip to this fishery saw a couple of good roach come to net and perch of an encouraging size. My plan was to go for both at once, so, two matched rods fishing the same float rig, one fished in the margins for the perch, the other a couple of rod lengths out for the roach, prawn on the hook for the first, maggot or caster for the second.

An aggressive cob... No mate. No wonder!

I don't have any difficulty fishing two float rods so long as one is fished really close up and the other in the same eye line but further away, just so long as action is slow in the margins, which is what I expected today. I was wrong on that score with the maggot rod getting infrequent bites and the margin rod getting many, but it didn't matter because all the fish coming to both were gudgeon, and only gudgeon, for the first hour or so.

The first roach came along to the maggot rod some time later, a small fish of six ounces, but at least they were starting to show. Then the gudgeon vanished in the margins, the float riding still for a while before sliding away. The strike met with a solid thump and I was attached to the first perch of the day, a hen not yet spawned and at a pound and a half I was now hopeful for something better.  An hour later, with the maggot rod slowing to nothing, a second perch was banked, this the spit of the first fish, but an ounce lighter. The prawn line just a foot off the marginal reed bed was showing itself to be the slow burner perch hotspot I'd anticipated.

Martin, fishing maggots off a long pole, was having a steady but slow succession of small fish including rudd, gudgeon, perch and roach. The overnight frost seemed to have had an effect and things were not exactly swinging.  Then he hooked something altogether better and brought home the first big roach of the day, a fish that at first sight slumped in the net, looked as if it might be that anticipated 'two', but laid on the ground was clearly not quite that, but getting there. I thought it a pound and three quarters, but it went one-pound nine-ounces on the scales. A lovely fish, and for a local water, pretty big.

The water is rumoured to contain two pound roach, but I cannot ever believe such claims till I see the evidence with my own eyes, roach being one of those fish that look big at a pound, very big at four ounces over, and enormous anywhere past a pound and a half and are so often estimated as two's when they are nothing like that big. Only when you are catching such fish on a regular basis do they start to look to be what they really are. Weighing them always produces disappointment when they come along out of the blue! And I've been disappointed on too many occasions to recount... Nevertheless, I don't know of anywhere nearby to Coventry where the stamp of roach in a still-water is quite so healthy and pointing firmly at that age old magical weight we all desire to catch, so Martin's fish filled me with roaring enthusiasm, and I returned to my peg with a plan in mind.

The rest of the afternoon was going to be an out-and-out caster attack, and so the maggots, which had only brought me gudgeon and small roach thus far, were immediately retired. Feeding five or six casters per cast and recasting every five minutes, it was over an hour before the first bite was got, but when it came it was from a roach, and that a one-pound three-ounce specimen, that fought like a small carp. Most unlike a roach to do that, so I suspect it had never been caught before. The next bite was from what just had to be another good roach, but it was just another pretty hen perch that just like the roach, fought like stink.

As the afternoon wore on, the bites became more and more regular, especially when the bottom shot was removed and the bait allowed to fall slowly through the bottom foot, with no less than five roach over the pound mark coming along but only one or two smaller. In the meantime the margin rod was getting indications now and then, but not clear bites. When Martin called over that he'd had a small crucian I decided to strike the little nibbles to see if it were crucians causing them. First time I tried, in came a tiny baby tench! Second time I tried, I hit what at first seemed a really heavy perch, before it woke up, and tore off. A carp...

One of the lake's immaculate roach. One-pound-two, and on way the up

Around the lake, it was clear that we were in for carp trouble, After a slow but undisturbed morning, my swim had really come to life and the fish were now coming up to the surface for the casters, but also the ominous boils of rooting carp were seen around the edges of the baited areas. The next bite to the margin rod looked so perch like, but was just one of those swim trashing pests, again. Then Martin hooked one that leapt clear of the water like a wayward torpedo snapping him up. And when a cast of the caster saw the bait plucked of the top as it hit the water, a good sized carp tearing off at speed causing all its mates to bolt too, I guessed that was the end of my caster attack!

One of Martin's carp. This fish had the most extraordinary mouth. This is not angler inflicted damage, none of this well run and tightly ruled fishery's stock ever show any sign of that, but a strange genetic deformity that has left the carp with just a tiny hole to feed through.   

With just an hour to go, I decided to ladle the casters in to regain the roach, and for a time it seemed to be working, a further small roach was caught and the water began to show signs of fish up in the water intercepting loose feed once again, but before it really came on song, time was up and the chance was gone till another day.

Still, I think this was the day I finally saw casters as the great roach bait they really are. I've messed with them before, but never really got the roach going on them quite well enough, but I really feel I got half way there on this occasion, and the stamp caught on them was truly impressive. Very selective too, unlike the maggots which attracted too much alternative attention. I will be looking into casters in great depth and using them for still-water roach more and more often, if they can achieve such wonders as that.

Next time it will be a whole days applied work with them, a couple of pints, not half a measly pint, and some hemp perhaps. See what happens then.

I wanna master caster. Be a caster master. Can't wait to get back!


  1. Hi Jeff, not sure but I may well have been at the same venue myself last thursday...Was it the one near Moreton In Marsh? If so AI fished the Tench lake and abandoned casters( maybe too soon?) coz sweetcorn seemed to work best. Still I didnt know about the big Roach? Which lake were you fishing?

    Great photos mate.

  2. Lovely roach there Jeff, and your friend Martin's fish does look bigger than its weight. Solid young looking fish too, so you'd think there must be some quite a bit bigger. And caster is a great bait for quality roach so definitely persevere!

    Enjoyable read, as ever.

  3. John, step down one pond and you're there.

    Russel, they are young, a water to watch I think.

  4. I may not have understood the last post, so to speak, but this one certainly rings some bells Jeff!

    Absolutely, definitely caster - I agree. The canals are a no go zone for roach at the mo, I'm putting it down to a spawning preoccupation, so I too am heading for the stillwaters. The least 'commercial' the better

    A recce has been undertaken and a plan is formulating...notes will be shared in due time of course


  5. The canal is dead round my way. Can't buy a bite, even tried maggot last night in desperation to get things moving along, but nothing. Not had a bream in ages, either, and that's highly unusual.

  6. Jeff I popped back yesterday. Well I was going meet up with me mate who I' d told about the place,but he blew out.

    So there I was in thunderstorms/ hail and catching.

    In the small pool. Big Roach , my biggest . Now I aint got scales but that one your mates holding I had two like like that.Some nice Crucians as well.

    I kept feeding a finger pinch, after a finger pinch.Sweetcorn done it.