A 430am rising could only mean one thing!, it was time to hit the road for another bash at a specimen Roach, this time it was to revisit a slice of angling heaven, the tantalising prospect of large uncaught redfins is far too much for me to ignore, the idea was great but I know all to well the sheer cunning required to catch such clever fish.
The river looked amazing when Brian and I arrived, a slight tinge of colour and a gentle mist rolling off the surface as we approached the hut, all I could think about was to get started and head to a lovely sweeping bend at the tail end of a pool I saw over two-dozen Roach in the Autumn. There was however one issue that there was to overcome, the game fish. These were everywhere, much to my annoyance it seemed every trot down the inviting pool I set my stall on was culminating in thrashing foam as the dirge of Trout ploughed their way through half a loaf of bread, it certainly made things difficult as every time I tried to get close to where the Roach were holding up the float would slip under but the end result not what was hoped for.
|Just magical, a lovely time to be on the bank.|
After persevering for over two hours in that one swim I had decided to move on and try something different, I simply could not get past the appetite of the Trout, the Grayling were fairly elusive too which was strange, no sooner did I think that the float slipped away and the tell-tale Grayling fight ensued, it wasn't a bad one either as it approached the net I thought it was a good 1½lb, not a Roach but it was fine, the next twenty minutes resulted in very little, so I decided to swap over onto a cage feeder fished with a piece of flake on a tiny hook-length, it turned out to be an inspired decision as I landed on a small shoal of big Grayling, six fish in just half an hour and all were upper 1's (1.11, 2x1.13, 2x1.14 and the largest at 2lb on the nose), not something I expected but great to see as the remainder of the river looked devoid of larger Grayling and previous catches have been extremely low.
|Another lump in the net.|
Seems that bit of good fortune was the turning point of the session, but not for me, a text came through with a shot of what I was after, a Roach! and a lovely one at that. Old, antiquated, characterful and exactly what a good Roach looks like, the only unfortunate thing about it was the fact she was going backwards, a frame of a comfortable "two-pounder" but now hanging around the 1¾lb mark, but when they look that good weight is in material. Needless to say once seeing that fish I stepped up my efforts, but decided to stick with the bait and wait approach to see if any more Roach were in the area. The endless attention from the Trout made things very difficult to get any consistency with a bait in the water, but I knew that a move bait was even worse, I hoped as dusk approached that the Trout would switch off and the attentions would turn to the Roach and maybe a couple of rogue Grayling.
For a couple of hours I watched the tip like a hawk to see any tell-tale Roach indications but as the sun disappeared and the sound of the roosting Pheasants filled the air my quarry remained very much a target but not a reality, we decided by about 6pm that we should call it a night and head back to London but whilst I was packing my limited gear away Brian went to the hut for his 1 Billion candle watt power touch, I do believe you could see through the fish with the brightness and we used this to good effect, even if it was a by-product of some good timing and luck, as we scanned the clean chalk/gravel bottom I noticed a large Roach sat in a foot of water and then quickly followed by another. Clearly they had dropped downstream probably due to the commotion caused by the hoards of Trout frolicking in my swim.
I thought that Roach by candle-light was a good idea and they weren't too bothered to be in the spotlight either, I jogged upstream full of a new found optimism and set up my rod with just a single SSG shot and bread flake. The idea was simply to get the bait upstream of the Roach and tease it into position, bare in mind that now it's pitch black and the only light we had was the torch, it was good fun and the heart rate increased which caused issue with our breath in the freezing cold air as we both tried to stop breathing in front of the torch as it was blocking our view into the water. At one point a large Roach over 2lbs was cruising up the inside of a run and was no more than 7ft from us as I dropped a small piece of flake in front of it, the cast was perfect and I bounced the bait to within a foot of the Roach and it sidled up to it as if it would suck the bait down any second, the heart really started to pump hard now and before we knew it she dropped off and disappeared into the deeper run in the middle and was not seen again.
Had I have caught that Roach it would have been a first for me, I've stalked Carp at night, Rudd and even Pike but never stalked Roach at night by design, quite an experience but it wasn't to be that night, my luck on the specimen Roach front is becoming very few and far between, knowing how rare two-pound specimens are I haven't had one this season, it will be the first season since 2009/10 that I wouldn't have achieved the feat, but I suppose all good and great things must come to an end, at least the captor was full of joy and why wouldn't he be, lovely way to cap off what was a cold but enjoyable day on arguably the prettiest beat I have fished on any river.
I will be back!