Roach Therapy

December 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Fishing a five hour canal match in December is no compensation for the loss of flyfishing from your life for a few months, but having signed up for a canal match series in warmer times and gained enough points to put me in second place overall, I arrived at the Basingstoke canal with some optimism on Sunday.

After toiling to my peg with a puncture in one of my trolley tyres, I found myself next to my championship rival. A battle of the giants. We wished. My killer method is the bread punch, fished on a carbon pole over small balls of liquidized bread, one of the secrets being able to judge just how much to feed, too much and they won’t take the small punched pellet of bread bait, too little and the shoal will disperse. I always start off without feed and begin to feed the bread depending on the number of fish, usually roach, taken in the first few minutes. Lets just say that it was twenty five minutes before my bristle float, rotated and dipped a fraction of an inch and held. A lift of the pole and a two ounce roach broke my duck. Not good. My rival was still without a bite and others along the bank were studying their floats intently, so I put in another small ball and fished over it. Nothing. That little roach felt cold in my near frozen fingers, which if I hadn’t already guessed it, was a sign of a hard match to come. The carp family of fish, to which the roach belongs, go dormant below a certain temperature, time to try another method.

I changed my pole rig and put a worm tail on the hook, the float sinking out of sight before it got a chance to cock. A small perch. Good. Being a predator evolved from colder climes, perch will feed under six feet of ice, so on went another worm and another little perch was in the keep net. About this time my rival made a shout of approval, as he finally struck into his first fish. Bad news, his landing net was out to net a good roach. Probably more weight than my fish together. So we continued, until the final 90 minutes, when any sign of a bite dried up. The whistle blew at last to end the competition. We were out of the money, but I needed a lot more weight to have pulled ahead in the points. No chance, he had half an ounce more and was still ahead. Knowing I can’t fish one of the matches due to my MG Owners club’s New Year Lunch, my wife’s favourite event, that’s me out of the running for another year, unless I win all the other matches and he blanks.

After a hard match, when you begin to doubt your ability to catch fish, it’s good to go somewhere that you can bag up, so Monday afternoon saw me on the banks of a tiny river that runs through a park near my home, armed with the remains of my bread bait not used on Sunday’s match. Fed by two streams, one from the local water treatment works, the river is always warm and has a good head of roach. Just what I needed to get rid of my canal blues. I set up with a light stick float,  lobbed a ball of liquidized bread over towards the far bank and trotted down with the current. A couple of yards and the float bobbed before cruising off to the side, as a small chub intercepted the bread punch pellet. No need for the net, another cast, another small chub, this time eight ounces, put a good bend in my rod making a run for the tree roots opposite. The river here is only about two feet deep, but the fish are invisible, until you set the hook with a flash of silver. Another ball of feed and the roach began to line up for the bait, mixed with the odd rudd, or skimmer bream. A lady walking her dog stopped to watch, saying that she didn’t realize there were fish in the river and stayed to chat. With every fish, the lady’s little Jack Russell got excited, barking and pulling at it’s lead, until she bade her farewell. I was now able to concentrate on the job in hand, banishing Sunday’s match from my mind.  The fish  slowed down after a hectic two hours and I pulled my keep net out to reveal a decent haul of silver fish, the bright red fins of the roach and rudd standing out in the cold light. Wish I’d had this lot yesterday.