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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


10/09/2019 - I Just Love Roach Fishing

Russ Shaw's floats and threader


I Just Love Roach Fishing

On Thursday I got a call from my friend Dave Hurst asking if I wanted to go roach fishing on Saturday, the immediate answer was “Yes please” since that phone call my mind has been mainly on my forthcoming roach fishing session, my problem is I don't drive very far at the present time, also I don’t drive in the dark, so if I was to go roach fishing I would miss out on the best time, that hour before dark and an hour into the dark. Yes, I can and do catch roach during the day, but I have found over some 70 years of experience, the bigger fish often feed as the light starts to fail, even more so with cormorant predation. I believe as nature always does have chosen to feed at this time knowing the black plague are not around, its known as survival. A Few Hours of Peaceful Bliss I've Just got in from a few hours roach fishing , the weather was ideal light wind from the north, warm sunshine with some cloud cover. It was around 1500 hrs when we arrived on the river bank, the only car there, we had the choice of swims, our two chosen spots were about fifty yards apart, David going downstream where he hoped for some barbel, I was targeting the roach choosing a swim well upstream, David’s thoughts were of barbel. Back in the car park I put together a 15 foot light weight rod that David had offered me to try, it was extremely light, fitted with my craftsman built centre pin “The Beult” made by Watermole, the balance was perfect. Having put the line through the guides with a simple but very effective threader made for me by Russ Shaw a member of TFF, I soon had the line through the guides, a balsa on wire stem float again made by Russ to take 3 AAA shot with 2 number I’s was attached. I needed all the help I can get these days, again Russ was to the rescue with his brightly painted orange floats, thank you Russ for your help in helping me with my angling a bit more easy especially with the threader, another great help for this old fella. Collecting what I needed I went off to my chosen spot, having to push my way through a dense bed of head high Himalayan balsam, nettles and briars.



Setting Up In My Swim



Also not knowing what to expect, I left all the gear at the top of the bank, not wanting to take a tumble ending up in perhaps ten feet or more of water, pushing my way down the steep bank, seeds were thrown everywhere from the balsam, eventually I got through to the water’s edge, where I found a grassy strip of bankside with enough room for my seat, tackle bag etc, it was a place where I could sit safely with a good view of the water up and downstream. Having got all my gear arranged I attached a plummet then set the float at ten feet, before dropping it close to the bank, it was a foot over depth, the next drop three feet further out, the float disappeared, moving the float up two feet, it was still submerged, the float was moved up another foot, this time it appeared above the surface by six inches, several casts were made covering the area I planned to fish, finding a consistent depth, I then spread a thick layer of Vaseline on the base of the plummet, then made more casts into the area hoping to get an idea what sort of bottom I would be fishing over. On retrieving it each time, I found tiny grains of silty sand, a few casts where made dragging the plummet along the bottom finding no snags. Those twenty plus minutes of searching the bottom were well worth effort as I’d got a very good underwater picture of my swim. Next I put in six bait droppers of hemp, another six droppers of liquidised bread with a few grains of hemp with some bicarbonate of soda powder. The reason I use a dropper to put in the liquidised bread, is I’m fishing twelve feet of water, I want my bait concentrated in a small area, not spread all over the river. Having got all my tackle sorted, the table laid for the fish, I left the swim for a while to give the fish of settling into the area after the disturbance I would have made and hopefully feed in peace.

Roach from the Off

I went off downstream to see how David was doing, he had a rod out for barble, but was just finishing off his other rod a light quiver, using a swim feeder rig with a ground bait and soft pellet on a size 14 hook, his quarry were the roach, within a minute of casting out, I noticed a small movement of the tip then a good pull, soon David had his first roach on his first cast, having agreed to meet at the car around 1800 hrs for a tea break, it was time I went back to my swim. Settling in I baited with punched bread, dropping the tackle about eight feet from the bank, as the float started to settle, it lifted slightly, the strike connected with a good head shaking fish more reminiscent of a perch, soon I got a look at the silver sided body and that electric blue along the top of its flanks of a roach, I estimated around 12 ounces, another cast another fish of similar size, I certainly had a smile on my face, I would be more than happy to catch roach like this for the rest of my days. All to soon it was time for a tea break, all my bites had been turned into fish, mainly roach, also half a dozen good dace averaging 10 ounces with probably a dozen gudgeon and a single chub about 2lbs. Not sure how many fish and bites I’d had, but I reckon it was around thirty or so. Back at the car David was waiting, he like me had been catching a lot of quality roach, we were both like kids at Christmas as we enjoyed our sandwiches and mugs of tea. During that first half we had seen green plovers, kingfishers, moorhens and the sentinel like heron. Though late in the season there were still plenty of butter flies, even the painted ladies which were in profusion at the height of the summer were still around, I counted several today. I also spotted a Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell also a Peacock, I wasn’t happy seeing a cormorant but thankfully it spotted us and departed further downstream.

The Second Half

Around 1845 hrs we went off to our respective swims, the roach were still present and willing to take a bait but not as often as before, then only punched bread, I tried other baits, even a large piece of flake the fish didn’t want to know. As the light started to fade I expected the roach to start priming or swirling on the surface but there wasn’t a single fish to be seen, I did see the odd fish priming close to the opposite bank in the fast water. As the light faded, the temperature was dropping by 2000 hrs the bites had ceased, I then made the choice of packing up, yes, I might have got the odd fish in the darkness but I’d enjoyed myself. On the way home we both agreed it had been a good session and we would have a few more.


My first fish in the net

Another nice roach

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Martin James Fishing
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