Thursday, 17 December 2015

Canal Roach — Forks at Dawn

Do anglers dream of electric roach?

Thinking about this challenge I've set myself. You know, the (catching the) impossible one of banking roach over two-pounds in weight from lake, canal and river and before March 15th. Well, it seems more and more possible the more I think about it. I guess that reducing 'the impossible' to the lesser rank of 'the improbable' is only a matter of thinking things through and then taking it down a peg to 'the possible' when a peg or two further to 'the probable' is just a matter of application.

If the fish are certainly there no matter how thinly spread, then they certainly can be caught by design. 

But exactly where and exactly how? 

Stratford town waters do hold a few very large roach. This is documented fact . They have cropped up in matches from time to time. I went there with Judy on our annual Xmas shopping trip. Of course I hate boutique shopping just as much as any other man unless it's about tool boutiques and the materials tools are designed to work upon. Therefore part of our annual trip is about me using the tools of this trade upon the materials they were designed to work upon. Which is fish. 

By taking a brief couple of hours out of our day I manage to stay out of her shopping hair by go getting myself tangled up in some other more enjoyable problem at Lucys Mill . It's a family tradition that I just cannot bring myself to break with...

But I wish I had last Saturday!

Setting up at one of my best chance pegs I think fishing may not be at all easy. The water is choppy and I don't know if the rod is going to cope with the buffeting. A few minutes later there's a great crack, a splintering groan, when I turn about and witness a large tree fall into the head of the swim with a splashy crash...

You may remember it was a windy day? No doubt it was a named storm that passed through given that every little blast of winter normality is now to be dubbed thus... 

It wasn't violent enough to be anything other than an annoyance to the tourist (unless you were on a boat passing under a weakened tree at the precise time it fell on your bonce and killed you stone dead) and even to an angler it was quite entertaining.

If I ever had a bite at The Mill then it went unseen what with the rod tip bouncing about all the while. Up to the Recreation Ground where I pitch up where the wind is least. I get a quarter of an hour respite during which time I catch one small roach till the wind veers and comes directly upstream when I'm forced off. 

Last chance is the 'S' bend at the Lido because there's an island there that should shield me. There I have two half-pound roach and both give the most unlikely bites. Massive rod-wrenchers they were.  Unusual for a fish that takes bread so delicately and warily under the usual run of weather. Just as well because otherwise I'd never have seen the little delicate plucks that roach ordinarily give.

No luck on the river two-pounder front though. And it was not expected given the atrocious conditions...

Whenever a comment is posted on Idler's Quest then I get notification of it in my inbox. This one came through yesterday, but despite the alert this comment does not appear on the post. Some sort of Blogger glitch, I guess. But it does need to be published because it contains news of a very important capture indeed if you are Jeff Hatt currently looking at the North Oxford as his best chance venue for a 2lb canal roach. 

I'm not at all surprised that such a fish was banked there. I've narrowed down the impossible to the probable precisely because of such captures. What is surprising is that it was caught by Jim Hogben but not George Burton!

A third angler fishing the NOXC for roach? Never. 

And succeeding to bank big ones into the bargain? Blimey. 

That's no small beer, let me tell you. And Jim's fish is up at the top of the pile too. I believe it ranks at equal third place alongside those banked by George and myself at the same weight and below George's famous 'two' and my infamous near miss at one-fifteen-eight. If three anglers can manage that kind of a fish on a tough venue where roach of any size are caught at a rate of about one-per-man day, then you just know that I had to get cracking at Grassy Bend...

And I did. And it was very interesting if it wasn't exactly successful. And I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Or the next day, I promise.

Tomorrow morning you see...

Forks at dawn. 


  1. So there are more than two mad fools on this mission then after all!

    We need to know more about this capture Jeff, for sure

    ...and I agree btw, joint third on list as far as we know

  2. Well, if Jim is reading this then, JIm, please do get in direct touch by mail.

    As you may gather, we both are all ears...