Quality roach queue up for the bread punch at the weir

February 16, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Floods, then a big freeze have kept me away from the bankside for nearly a month and after a mild, dry morning, I went in search of roach on my local river Cut this week. Usually a good bet for roach is a weir, where water from the town water treatment works discharges into the river. I tried to reach this swim a few weeks ago, but the river was over the banks and running along the road. Now it looked perfect.

This swim usually has a powerful back eddy pushing upstream, but today there was a defined narrow crease running back toward the weir under the tree stump. This is where the roach lie and after a few balls of liquidised bread slightly up stream of me, I followed down with the float to the crease, the float sank and I lifted. It was solid, a snag was lying downstream of the stump. I pulled until the hook link broke, getting my float back. Not a good start. I now noticed a float caught in the crease above the stump. I was not the first.

I looped on another size 16 hook to my 6 No 4 ali stick rig and started again, the bait just tripping bottom. I had fed a couple more balls just upstream, this time further across to avoid the snag and first trot I held back just as the float reached the crease, the float giving a bob, then sinking. This time it was a good roach, that surfaced, before rushing round the pool, eventually turning on its side to slide over to the landing net.

Following another ball of feed, the float held, then went under before it reached the crease. Again a battling roach dashed back to the foam, before being brought upstream to the landing net, which from the high bank was a stretch, even with the 3 metre landing net, using my foot to support the weight as I brought it up to my box.

Bigger than the first, it was only lightly hooked and wondered if the roach were just sucking at the 6 mm pellet of punch. To draw the shoal from the crease I kept small balls of feed going in upstream of me, which seemed to work, as the float dragged under once the float had settled and I was playing a quality roach under my rod top, backwinding to ease the pressure on the hook, which was just as well as it dropped out in the landing net.

Three quality roach in five casts and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, when I followed a bite too far into the crease and I was snagged up again, losing another hook. I usually carry a few ready tied hooks of each size from 14 to 20 and I looped on my last size 16. The flow from the outfall had increased and the eddy was pulling the float closer to the stump, the hot spot catching my hook six feet away and guessed that the floods had lodged a big branch down there, which I would not shift with my 3 lb hook link.

To cope with the increased flow, I raised the float by six inches to hold back harder, inching the float to the edge of the crease; bites were still fussy, but a strike to a slight hold down brought contact and another rod thumping roach.

It was difficult to keep the float away from the snag, knowing that six inches either way would be a fish, or another lost hook. Bites tended to develope a few feet from the snag and it was tempting to strike early, sometimes I missed, some I bumped, while others I hooked.

Sorry for the blurred image, but it was still a good fish.

This roach was swollen with spawn.

My next fish was a surprise skimmer bream, which took on the drop and moved off at speed. Thinking that it was a chub at first, by the surging fight on contact that took it dangerously close to the tree, I hauled back putting a good bend in the rod, before it changed tack and headed for the opposite bank and surfaced.

I have had bream of over a pound from this swim in the past, but this is the first for some years.

Shortly after the skimmer, the snag claimed another hook and I was down to size 18s and lost the next good roach, when I tried to keep it out of the snag.

The fish were safe where they were in relatively calm water with plenty food coming their way, while I caught the occasional one, that was tempted out by the fluttering piece of punched bread.

These were all quality roach and I wondered what had happened to the gudgeon and small chub that usually steal my bait.

How did this roach stay on, the hook just in the skin of the lip.

This was my last fish of the afternoon, yet another clonker roach that ran out into the foaming weir race, while my 14 foot Browning took the shocks of its pounding fight, my back beginning to ache from the constant leaning out to reach them with the landing net, the hook holds too light to chance swinging them in, this one proving me right, when the hook dropped out in the net.

A chub and a hook lost while trotting along the brambles opposite, was the decider for me to pack up early and hope that someone armed with a grappling hook will do the honours on that snag.