For more than a week leading up to last Saturday I had dreams every night about monster roach, specimens over 3lb certainly live here and the numbers of 2's are amazing, catching them however has proven so far to be a very difficult task. I like to think I know a thing or two about catching large roach as over the last 17 years the number stands at 28 over the 2lb mark, my ultimate fish of a lifetime would be a three-pound specimen, for me, that would be the pinnacle of my angling achievements regardless of what I achieve thereafter.
Trotting waters where these creatures reside just gives me goosebumps, the deep glides amongst the far bank tree-lines and swirling pools are the real lures when I begin fishing them. These very swims are where I began my pursuit last weekend. 430am wake up call and on the road before 5am sounds crazy and yes, it might be, but with a 80 mile journey ahead and a sunrise at 720am time was and always is of the essence. Roach simply have that ability to captivate me like no other species. Armed with all the best winter baits for roach I felt confident that should their location be found I stood half a chance to get amongst a few, however, the game fish ( Brown Trout and Grayling ) are also in good numbers here which does make targeting the roach even more of challenge.
|Sunrise to rival all, truly magical, but cold at -4c.|
Grayling seemed to be playing ball early on as a few came in quick succession to just over a pound before the Trout moved onto the loose feed and proceeded to trash the run, it was soon time to move on as once the trout really get feeding the competition is so one-sided, everything just either moves up or down or as often is the case shut up shop until the trout ease up. I find with roach they feed best when the trout aren't present at all, so floating trout out of a trot with bread crust often works wonders, not fool proof by any means but better than nothing. Throughout the next four runs all I could find was more eager trout until I came across a nice slow deep run which typically isn't a natural holding area for trout, a couple of maggots were flicked out before fishing and my second trot down resulted in an above average grayling of a pound or so, not bad but not as big as the next one.
I sent my 7BB float, bulk shotted, down the run again and as it reached a dead spot where the float eased off the flow it sailed away, I struck into the fish and it leapt clear like a trout, it looked like one too, so to keep it out of the swim from ruining it further I played it fairly quickly, luckily for me it didn't come off, as it approached the net out of the deep water it quickly became a big grayling! it wasn't panic stations and all that but that could have gone wrong easily, not this time though. A stunning 2lb 2oz grayling lay in the net whilst I waited for a gap in the rain to take a photo, it wasn't easy either.
Not a monster roach but a big grayling are a very pleasing substitute, it wasn't the only one either, an hour so later, a couple of hundred meters downstream I landed another exactly 2lbs which took maggots just 10-12 inches under the surface in four feet of water, I could have sworn it was a trout for a few reasons, alas, I was very happy to see it nestled in my net. The session had taken a rather expected turn in relation to the grayling showing in good numbers, the roach population still remained completely anonymous.