Saturday, 6 September 2014

In Search of Monster Roach.

 It is no secret that Roach are a species I am very fond of, especially large Roach. Over my angling career I have been extremely fortunate to have caught many quality redfin's from a range of different rivers, but my ultimate piscatorial goal is a 3lb plus specimen, this is as I have said previously my "Holy Grail" of all the species of fish in our waterway's, I could join a syndicate or travel to some far flung lakes to try and maybe succeed but I will certainly feel a much larger sense of satisfaction if I was to catch a wild specimen from a river. So with that said before this season I have had a very good run on the large Roach, large being 2lbs and above.

 Every Roach over that 2lb barrier is another fish of a lifetime, many people may have never caught a 2lb Roach so I keep that in mind when I do catch them, a sense of prospective which just allows you to enjoy the moment when the time comes which inevitably does. This Autumn and Winter I will spend some time fishing southern England's chalk stream's for more big Roach but the Pike and Perch campaign will certainly be the main challenge. Large Roach are present in a few big rivers like the Thames and Avon but also some more intimate streams like the Bourne, Frome and some more bigger rivers like the Wey, Stour just to name a few but I also know decent Roach reside in the Lea and Severn both of which aren't a million miles away.

 Time before Christmas is going to be an issue but when I do get the chance the Roach will get a fair crack of whip, a big one is in the offing, just when is the question! as is with any specimen fish, I have a couple of rivers that I will fish for them but although these are further than I usually travel it should be worth it, but now I will catch up on a few trips that I have made over the last two weeks, a couple of whole dayers and the other three sessions were relatively short in search of large Roach.

 I have found over these sessions that during the day I get plagued by Chub and not 5lb plus Chub, the sort that just thrash the water to a foam and piss all the Roach off who in turn end up not feeding for hours after that, so I have learnt quite a bit from this instead of spending 10 hours on the bank I have reduced it down to 1 to 3 hours, depending on how long I had available, if it was only a flying visit then I would free-bee some bait and trot along the creases or if I was going to be sticking around a while then I would build the swim and fish the cage feeder on a very soft top, probably no more than 1.5oz.

 The first two trips I made out I was plagued by Chub and it turned out to be the only thing I got besides one random Eel of about 2lb which put me in a right twist, so I had accumulated roughly 14 hours fishing and not even a little Roach to show for my efforts but that is how it goes, I have done enough of targeting specimen Roach especially over the last 4 seasons to know that when the conditions are right and you have enough bait to provide them with then you can catch as many as you can, so a keepnet is a must because a few times I have caught Roach and when you release them back into the swim the remaining fish tend to switch off, but I did catch it good on a couple of evening's, here is how the other sessions went.

 After the second trip out I had started to work out the feeding patterns and when you spend that amount of time on a bank without catching you really think hard as to why your not catching, so on the third trip all of that thought had finally provided me with Roach and some very good ones too, the early part of the third trip was mainly dominated by hungry Chub but fortunately not many were caught and they got the picture and disappeared, that was when the Roach started to feed - the typical Roach knocks started to arrive and then the time between knocks shortened as they grew in confidence for it wasn't long before the first was too confident and ended up ripping my soft top around and I was in, a typical short but spirited fight played out in front of me and only had to avoid losing tension and the ribbon weed which went smoothly and a large red dorsal fin cut through the surface of the water and swiftly into my net, 2 and a bit days with no Redfins and this was my reward, a 1lb 13oz Roach.


 This fish was long-overdue and it wasn't long before I was re-paid further with another lovely fish of 1lb 6oz, things were starting to look perky and for a while the swim did go quiet but 15 or so minutes had passed since putting the 2nd in the net the rod started to bounce and then another assertive pull of the rod was followed by me hooking into a large Roach, a stronger more dogged fight followed for roughly three or four minutes and then it rolled on the surface, a very big Roach of roughly 2.8 - 2.12 flashed itself and then for some inexplicable reason the hook just slipped and the Roach made a dive back down for the bottom, it was gone, not sure when the last time I cursed so much, every thing I could think of was aired. I was gutted for sure and briefly thought about packing up there and then but it couldn't bring myself to doing it, I had to stay as they were feeding and it wasn't long before I was repaid for patience and persistence, a carbon copy take followed and another big Roach was on the end, I made sure that this one did not slip the hook by being very careful, two minutes down the line a large silvery golden flank cruised over the lip of the net, relief and joy were my over-riding feelings when that went in, it wasn't all a disaster then!!.

An immaculate 2lb 1oz, proper brilliant.
 With the photo's done and weighing I allowed it to get it's breath back and then released her back to the deep, not my Holy Grail but I can not get enough of 2lb plus Roach, they are a magnificent fish to see and hold, a pleasure for sure and a few days later I headed off out and was met by a slightly more coloured river at dusk, my thinking was to do maybe an hour or two at the most after a long days work, so I didn't waste any time setting up and getting some ground-bait out leaving it 10 minutes, then put a bait out at the head of the swim and the rod tip started to bang around before I had put the rod down, I thought it was some crap or weed coming down stream that had caught it so I picked up the rod and started to wind in and immediately it started to jerk back down stream, by which time I had bent into what ever it was and started to then fight, the rod tip was zig-zagging across the surface and fighting quite hard in the current I thought straight away it was a Roach and it felt quite heavy but was pitch black by this time so I could see nothing, I just trusted that it was a good hook hold - at night it's slightly more nervy because you can't actually see anything, it could be a 3lb Roach and you wouldn't know until you had it the net and pull back the mesh, I think it adds to the experience so with that in mind when it did cruise over the edge of the net I quickly got it onto the mat and there was another big Roach, on my very first cast of the evening a beautiful but certain 2lb Roach lay on the mat, but there was one annoying aspect of the night and that was my absent mind forgetting the shoe to my DSLR's tripod so I could not do any self takes so a mat shot of a stunning 2lb 5oz Roach had to do, I haven't done that before!.

A solid lump of 2lb 5oz.

 A couple of snaps on the mat after I weighed her before it went back before I sat back and texted a couple of fellow angler's and my Dad of the capture before sitting back and relaxing, pressure off after the first cast??, not sure for 2lb Roach I have ever done that, I fed the swim for another 5 minutes after that but the bites were that of just Minnnow's and small Dace / Chub nibbling at the bait, the Roach didn't show anymore that night, did I care??, not a single bit. It was tough few sessions but I had got out of it what I desired, I will be heading down to Wareham some point this winter for some truly monster Roach and will also show my face down on Salisbury Avon along with the Frome and Dorset Stour, anyone else know of some rivers that hold monster Roach I am all ears.

 A great couple of sessions with two 2lb Roach banked @ 2lb 5oz and 2lb 1oz, my first two of the season and takes me up to 23 Roach over the magical mark, long may it last.


  1. Hi James, can you ping me an email please as I have an email address for Bob. Mine is

    All the best