Saturday, 25 July 2015

Avon Roach — Bloody Peculiar

Finally, I have my license to fish and with a trip down the Avon planned for Friday evening I think I'll rack up a few scores on the Blogger's Challenge board and begin to give the lads a run for their money. My approach will be ledgered bread, an art form I am overly familiar with, and to be honest, finally tiring of. But it does tell me a lot about a new stretch of river that other approaches cannot.

It usually works well at getting bites and pretty much instantly. If bread loving fish are there to catch then you'll know within five minutes and usually less. And the beauty if it is that with enough experience under the belt you can tell with certainty which species of fish they come from before you hook and land one to prove it.

It's raining now and will rain all evening long by the look of it. Setting up first in a complicated pool with hundreds of options to choose from is not great where roach are concerned should they be the target. I don't even think roach like pools very much. I don't think they enjoy complexity, you see. But I cast about for bites, here and there, and everywhere, when I soon find a spot with fish in it. But they are not roach — too bouncy. I think either gudgeon or dace. Sure enough it's dace but very small ones. Nevertheless, three ounces of dace earns 14 points...

After half an hour or so I try a plume of faster water exiting the willow occupying almost the entire width of river upstream that has made this pool more complex than it ever would have been before it fell. There I get a roach bite. So I sit on my hands and wait out the initial quarter inch twangs for a more progressive and confident one inch take. In comes the first roach of the evening followed soon after by a half-pounder worth 12 points. Hoping I have a shoal at my disposal and possibly fish of decent size I find two is all I'll likely get because no more bites come.

On retrieve there's a jolt and a tug and a strong response deep down. A good chub perhaps, or even a big river bream with any luck?

No such luck. It's a bloody jack pike! But it's worth five bloody points...

It snaps the line in the net so I try to extract the hook lodged in its jaw. Of course it flips at just the wrong moment and punctures my thumb. Great. My reading glasses are at home and now I have to tie up another spade-end without the aid of focus. And the blood will likely flow for the next hour or more knowing something of the anticoagulant properties of the slather on pike teeth...

I think one more cast back to the spot will suffice and then I'll move along. I'm packing down for the move when in one brief second the rod lurches toward the water, springs back hard and then swings straight and level toward where the fish is headed, which is under the willow. There's nothing there. The hook is gone...

Damnation. Another tie up to perform...

Of course I'd failed to take the precaution of washing the blood off my thumb before baiting the hook, turning innocent bread devilish. Should have remembered that other strange day at Saxon Mill when on consecutive casts I caught both pike and perch on bread with the scent of my blood on it. I make a mental note to prick my thumb on a pike tooth next time I go piking proper and rig up a great dollop of bread as bait, because I'm sure it'll be the pike bait nonpareil.

Enough is enough and so I trot downstream in search of chub passing Martin and Joe on the way. Both are after barbel but they've had a small chub apiece, so maybe I'll join their club with one of my own? Settling into a new swim, and this time one that really does look very roachy in it's dull simplicity, I cast out and get roach bites straight off the bat. Another half-pounder flops into the net but then the bites stop.

On the retrieve there's a jolt and a tug and a strong response deep down. Yep, it's another tie up for me.

Just how powerful is the attraction of the scent of human blood to pike, eh? And how very little do you need to taint bread with to bring them to it? The flow abated half an hour ago, I've washed my hands, and had them covered in roach slime since, but still they seem to be able to detect it.

River score board 24/07/15
One more move and I'm done. I want a chub and will have one. A cast down the inside line finds me  chub bites. Unmistakable ones. A second cast nails it, though till I see the fish I'm not that sure it ain't another jack. But it heads under the raft of weed under the staging and gets stuck fast, when I'm certain it's a chub and certain to get a few more points should I extract it.

Just under two-pounds in weight it may be, but is worth 20 points...

Martin and Joe both go home without improvement though both catch more chub and Martin has a barbel too. But that's barbel fishing for you. When it comes to strategic scorings and tactical time management, once you have a scrawny summer eight or nine-pounder under the belt, you may as well leave them till early next springtime when points will be very hard to acquire across the board and then fish all out for a big double when they're fittest and they're fattest.

We plod across the field each weighed down with a stone of extra water about us and go home soaked and freezing, but I've a grand total of 51 points for four species to tally which pushes me one notch up the leader board and into 8th place on the river board.

Now, 51 points in an evening may not sound so great an achievement (think 4:12 chub) but small pike, roach, dace and chub combined trump by one point the barbel of ten-eight that might have taken me a whole week's worth of work to nail this time of the year but might weigh 12lb or more come February...

A bloody peculiar day, for sure, but not without its reward!

Leader board 24/07/15


  1. Enjoyable as ever, Blogfather. Would be interesting to see the different approaches to the challenge if the same rules applied, but it was a week long challenge with a worthwhile prize.

    1. Yeah, I reckon I'd rack up as many species as possible in as short a time as possible. I've had ten species in the one day before. Even that can be bettered, Russel

  2. In the running now Jeff, good to see you managing time on banks again. Let's hope you can find some of those big fish that frequent your beautiful part of the country.

    1. At the moment I'm content to fill in the boxes with fish of any size, James. I love that element of the competition in the early stages. Just go fish and to hell with targets. It won't last long, of course. At some point I have get some bonus points! There's only 570 available and you already own more of them than my current total!