Sunday, 13 September 2015

Canal Roach — Round the Bend

Had an idea going round in my head lately. There's this canal, you see. And it contains roach. Big ones and proven ones. Not ordinary roach, mind. I truly believe that it holds monstrous roach that you would not believe the size of. In excess of wildest dreams, if my calculations are correct...

The trouble is, the venue is almost impossible to fish effectively but through the night and very early morning times and that is because it is plagued by an endless two-way procession of you know what. That thing I cannot abide. Those once essential but now pointless contraptions that make life hell for the canal roach specimen hunter. 

Imagine, if you will, that one day the motorway system becomes redundant because technological advance renders the vehicles that ply them redundant. They moulder. But Mother Nature transforms them into pretty strips of weathered and crumbling tarmac on which weeds grow tall, butterflies flutter by, hares frolic, and on which pedestrians and cyclists might get to work or take a casual stroll along after. Then imagine that business-minded upstarts buy up all those rusting articulated trucks, punch holes in the sides for windows and kit them out with galleys and bunks. And then rent them out to holiday makers who'll burn tens of gallons of diesel fuel in pursuit of joy by making pointless journeys to nowhere and back again. 

Did I digress? 

Now I said, specimen 'hunter' because I meant just that. A person who goes out and actively hunts prey. Moves around. Does this and that to improve chances. Changes tack. Changes mind. And all to put himself at some small advantage in trying to gain a winning edge against very tricky quarry. Anyone who knows me well will testify that I cannot sit still for long in any swim unless I get the right kind of bites or expect them to come with certainty. I am a hunter by my very nature and never more so than when roach fishing.  

I am not a natural specimen 'trapper' by any means. It is not me who digs a hole in the ground, covers it with sticks and leaves, puts a morsel of food on top and waits for as long as it takes for prey to follow the scent trail and fall in it. That is what I never could abide. All those fruitless hours spent wondering if things are right. Are the rigs correct? Is bait is the right one to use? Was it cast to the right place? All the million little concerns that plague the trapper's waking hours. Who has no idea till his hapless prey falls in when he's fast asleep whether or not it ever will... 

It's no wonder carp anglers buy so much tackle. They have a lot to think about while they wait, and wait, and wait. Maybe this will work better? Maybe that will work better? After yet another blank session during which the uselessness of an approach is revealed, they'll go straight out and buy the answer. And then take the new kit to the bank along with the doubtful stuff just in case it was right after all but the prey were asleep at the time. All piled high in a wheelbarrow. 

Well, I think I have no choice but dig my holes and prime my traps if I want those roach I anticipate, because this venue demands I do. I really don't see any way round it. I cannot keep a float in the water for nearly long enough and when I think I might get a whole half-hour of interrupted calm, round the bend comes yet another.

It's not that I hate the drivers. I don't know them. And cannot judge them. I can't see what kind of footwear they've chosen to go with their appropriately broad-brimmed but usually ill-fitting style-free headwear.  And if you cannot see a man's shoes then you cannot make character judgements about him. Ask any woman if you don't believe me. Women always check your eyes and then your shoes before smiling your way — for the quality of both together belie a man completely. 

The only one I ever saw wearing equally great hat and shoes was a woman...

Surprised I noticed at all when I couldn't take my eyes off her lovely bum. 

An 18 inch roach pan and a very compact outfit

So, anyhow. I digress yet again and must get back on track. This morning I began by tying up helicopter maggot-feeder bolt-rigs and then went round the corner to my test bed swim to see what might happen. I was hoping for roach but didn't know what I'd get. I suspected lots of small perch and skimmer bream. Maggots draw both like nothing else...

The buzzers have no batteries in em. Merely convenient rests. I like to be alert at the wheel and may not buy any for the planned future. The rods are little nine-foot Shakespeare wands teamed with ABU reels. Both are excellent at the job in hand and the outfit fits neatly into the confined spaces of canal towpaths. The feeders are two little green things once given away for free on the cover of some magazine or another. Very small capacity of just twenty grubs. I added extra weight to them by cutting up scrap lead flashing found in a skip into strips and folding it around the original too light pieces. I don't want to spend money I don't have to, and over-feeding on canals is the kiss of death in every instance. 

1lb 7oz Coventry canal hybrid

I was most surprised at sitting about for half an hour without so much as a touch. Fishing the near shelf and at almost a straight line along it I survived three boats in a row without a recast. Something of a miracle that every one passing by actually stayed in the track when yesterday one misjudged and crashed into the bridge by making too wide an approach on the bend. I was just beginning to doubt my traps when the right-hand swinger twitched, rose and fell, and then slammed into the rod. This was not a roach and neither was it a bream. The creature was mad as hell and somehow that I still cannot figure, managed to get under and then cleanly over the other line to be beaten and banked on the left side of it.  

It was a hybrid, of course. But I was very happy with that result because it was very 'roach like' and if the rig would catch such a fish then it would certainly catch my roach too. Experiment concluded. But I stayed around for another half hour to see what else might occur.

I had one more bite and a small skimmer to show for it. But at least there was just the one to show for it. And not even the slightest sniff of the dreaded gorge swallowers. Believe me, where I'm going that is going to matter very much.

If I can beat both of them and the boats too then I think I'm in with half a chance.


  1. But Jeff having all the gear and no idea is part and parcel of modern carp fishing. We trappers need to spend our fishing pocket money on nice shiny things to look good on the bank. lol. Great write up as usual. Mark

  2. Well, I don't know if you quite fit the trapper mould that snugly, Mark. You actually do move swim when you know the first choice was a bad choice, f' Chrissakes!

    What kind of a carp angler does that, eh?

    You must be something of a hunter, I reckon. Maybe some kind of hybrid?

  3. Lovely bum was it Jeff.....well there has to be some perks to angling when the going gets tough!

    1. She had a truly memorable backside, James. I could see how nice it was at a hundred yard distance!