Big roach take the bread punch despite the drought

September 21, 2020 at 6:33 pm

With only the morning available to fish, I decided that a visit to my local River Cut fitted the bill, but the sight of bare stones and exposed mud below the trickle of a weir, made me hesitate and reconsider my preferred swim. Intending to fish the stick float, I required flow, but those that I passed were static. There was only one swim I knew of that would have movement, it was a long way downstream and difficult to reach along the bank, but could be worth the walk.

Years a go a large tree had blown down away from the river, pushing a mound of earth into the stream and reducing the width by half and many floods later, a deep channel has been carved out between the banks. There are so many productive swims further upstream, that I rarely venture down this far, although past visits have often brought surprises, a large goldfish and a bream spring to mind.

The downstream feature is a dead elder stretching across to the other side, merging with a snaggy bush growing out from the opposite bank, dangerous territory for the light weight stick float rig.

Pushing my way through the Himalayan Balsam to the swim, I was ready to fish by 9 am. I dropped a couple of small balls of plain liquidised bread into the middle and close to the outcrop, followed by my 4 No 4 stick float, weighted with just the tip showing, the size 16 barbless hook with a 5 mm pellet of bread a few inches off bottom in the 3 foot deep swim. The cloud of bread went straight down, while the float barely moved. Lifting and recasting over the feed, began to produce slight tremors to the float tip, but nothing to strike at and I began to think that a pole with a fine antenna float to a size 20 would have been better.

Reducing the punch size to 4 mm got an immediate bite and a spate of gudgeon, sucking at the bread, bobbing the float, but not taking it under. Normally the flow would drag the float under, but I found that an induced take worked, a twitch upstream resulting in a pull under of the float, enough to hook the gudgeon.

Hoping to attract some better fish, I mixed in some ground carp pellets and ground hemp, putting in a few more small balls, allowing the bait to sink through the cloud. More gudgeon, then the float went straight down and the rod was bending to a sizable silver fish, a fat roach fighting bank to bank.

At last a decent fish, this perfect roach gorging the 4 mm punch of bread. Another couple of balls went in and I let the float drift down between them. Bob, bob, sink. I was playing an even better roach, that ran upstream, then turned to bury its nose in the snags beneath the overhanging elder. It came free, ran to the opposite bank, then back again to my waiting net, all the fun over in a minute.

Gorged again, the small punch pellet being sucked straight in. I put on my bait apron, as things could get slimy, casting in again over a small ball. Bob, bob, sink, brace the strike, not a roach, but a gudgeon swinging to hand. Suddenly the pace picked up and the bites stopped. The healthy green tinge had turned to a dull brown murk in minutes.

It was just past 9:30 am, and the fishing had gone dead. This influx of mucky water had an instant affect on the fishing, probably due to the lack of other water available to dilute it. I increased the depth to lay the bait on the bottom over the feed, while I poured a cup of tea. The float bobbed and sank with a tiny gudgeon hanging on the hook, the only bite in half an hour. The flow slowed to nothing again and I shallowed up, more in hope than judgement, only for the float to sink away as a small rudd searched through the feed.

More gudgeon, rising up through the cloud to take on the drop. The roach would soon follow, I hoped, but what did follow was more mucky water, picking up the flow again. You can’t go on flogging a dead horse, or swim in my case, so I packed up and was on my way back to the van by noon.

A dozen more roach like these were on the cards, but sometimes we have to be thankful for small mercies.