Big roach on the bread punch defy winter floods

February 28, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Winter storms continue and I looked for the best of a bad bunch of forecasts this week, deciding that a heavy frost, followed by sunshine and wintry showers of hail and sleet would give me a chance at some big roach from my local river. It was still only 5 degrees centigrade, when I drove over the river at lunch time, looking down into the flood water as it surged beneath the bridge, debris jammed against the upstream side causing the river to find its way around and over the roadway. Parking in the partly submerged lay-by alongside the river, I loaded up my trolley for the walk to my chosen swim, where the outfall from the town water treatment works joins the river.

Siting my tackle box on the top of the high bank, I set up my light weight 12 foot Hardy float rod with a 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float to a size 16 hook. Hoping for 8 to 12 oz roach, the Hardy is ideal as it has a soft top that bends well into their bouncing fight and the shock of a sudden run. This swim used to hold a head of good chub, plus the occasional common carp and my 14 foot Browning was the answer then. It would bounce off the odd roach, but had the back bone to stop any chub that made a break for it down the weir stream. Unfortunately those big fish seem to have been poached out of the river these days by constant night fishing with set lines, but the roach remain.

The river was up at least a foot at this point, pushing hard into the weir stream, the usual back eddy reduced to a small area on the far side of the confluence. Plumbing the depth confirmed that the river was up by over a foot and I added another foot to hold back against the bulk shot to ease the rig down toward the foam. Damping down coarse liquidised bread, I squeezed up a few firm balls and threw them ten yards upstream to start creating a feeding area out in front of me. Guessing that the river would be in full flow, I had prepared a couple of sheets of rolled punch bread to avoid the bait being washed off the hook.

Despite regular balls of feed, I was biteless for about an hour, then as the float eased into the foam, it disappeared and the little Hardy bent double with a good fish that ran back down the stream, back wound my ABU 501 reel to stay in contact. Slow thumps on the rod confirmed a big roach, that topped briefly before diving back down and took my time to bring it into the slower water at my feet, the landing net pole bending with the weight as I brought it up the bank.

This roach was well worth the wait. I squeezed up another ball and threw it well upstream, laying the float across the feed and easing it down. The float held down and I was in again to another battling roach.

The fish had now moved up into the river just below me, the bread covering the bottom holding the roach in a tight area, the bites going from anticipated to expected, each trot bringing a rod bender.

Even the small ones were clonkers, as I worked my way through the shoal. They did not want it running through, but nailed to the bottom well over depth, lifting and dropping the bulk shot a few inches at the a time, the bites unmissable.

Many of these roach have a harmless lice infestation.

This roach took during a hail storm that left the bank white for a few minutes, chilling the air more than before.

Whether the sudden influx of icy hail had put off the roach I don’t know, but the next fish was a chub, that made a rapid rush back to the weir stream. A real rod bender for its size. A smaller one followed, then it was several big gudgeon before the roach returned.

A perfect specimen.

And another.

They just kept coming.

A prolonged hail and rain storm stopped me fishing for a while, as a gusting wind lashed the surface of the river. I made up some more feed, throwing tight balls upstream.

The pace of the river had been picking up all afternoon and I added another three inches to the depth of the float to cope with the flow. Like before, the next fish after the hailstorm, was another chub, this time a better fish again, the rod and back winding withstanding that initial chub run.

A few more monster gudgeon and I was back into the roach, my landing net working overtime.

Most of the hooks came out in the net, proof that they could not be rushed.

This was my last roach of the day, forcing myself to stop at bang on 4:30 pm. I had run out of bread feed, having used 8 oz of coarse ground white loaf.  I had used the rolled bread, with a 6 mm punch all afternoon at a total cost of about 30 pence.

Emptying the keepnet into my landing net for a quick photo before I lowered them back into the river, I weighed them in at 9 lb 4 oz, not quite the 10 lb I expected. Should have fished for another ten minutes!