Winter roach take bread punch on the stick float after the floods

January 19, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Heavy rain had caused flash floods on my local river Cut this week. Draining the acres of concrete and tarmac around the town, the little river has been up and over its banks like a yoyo in recent weeks. With more rain forecast, I was lucky to catch it on the way down again, when I visited for an afternoon’s fishing.

For the first time this year, I followed the path downstream to a swim where a bush grows out into the river on the outside of a bend, with the main flow and deeper water passing beneath it. This has obviously proved a popular spot, judging by a variety of floats tangled in the branches along the waterline.

Positioning my tackle box upstream of the bush, I set up my 12 foot Hardy float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan Ali stick float to a size 18 hook, to fish a 5 mm punch of rolled bread. Plumbing the depth over to the front edge of the bush, the float was adjusted to fish an inch off bottom to start with. The pace of the river was quite quick here and expected to go over depth to hold the float back to slow it down if bites were slow in coming. Over night temperatures had been close to zero again and decided to mix up only a small amount of liquidised bread with a dusting of Haith’s red Spice attractor. This has a sweet aroma and has proved good for roach and chub in similar conditions for me before, also when damped down it forms firmer balls of feed, which sink quicker on a fast flow. On a cold, dull day it helps to think that you have an edge to get the bites.

I squeezed up a couple of pigeon egg sized balls of feed and put them in one and two yards upstream of the bush, watching the balls fall through the cloud, the line edging the bush. Easing the float through along the edge of the bush produced a slight hold of the float. I stopped the float with a finger over the line and the float sank, the strike putting a bend in the rod from a hard fighting roach.

This is what I came for, a solid roach that dived back under the bush before being drawn away into open water and the landing net. The hook fell out in the net and decided to net every fish whatever its size.

The bites were very fussy, but consistent, helped I think by the Spice mix, putting in a small ball every 15 minutes. The hot spot was just to the end of the bush and if I hadn’t struck a bite by then, a full stop of the float often saw it pulled down by another clonker.

These roach did not hang around once hooked, fighting deep, while I tried to slowly bring them to the surface, before sliding them over to the net. I lost one big ‘un, when it change direction suddenly and headed for the shallows on my bank, only to run itself aground. Lifting it over the lip of the landing net, it gave a flip and was unhooked, heading off at top speed before I could net it again. Flip!

Several bites I missed because the float dithered and half sank, then popped up again, while leaving the float to continue ended up with no bread on the hook. I think these may have been dace, or maybe gudgeon, or even one of the many stickle backs that have flourished this year. Who knows, as none were hooked.

The pace picked up and I added 6 inches to the depth and trickled the float through, holding the float up with the rod raised and continued to catch roach.

One of these quality roach had a large slash on it’s shoulder, possibly a stab from a heron? It fought well, but I put it back immediately to avoid damage in the keepnet and it darted away, none the worse for wear.

The bites were now becoming mere touches as the river sped up even more than before, it had rained lightly in the previous hour, but this was a real flush through. A heavy shower further upstream? I added another 6 inches to the depth and slowed the float to quarter pace, the float dragged under and I was in again.

I thought that this was a chub when I first struck, the roach diving away downstream behind the bush as it fought with the current keeping deep, but that characteristic pounding fight was not chub-like and a flash of silver said roach. Having lost one big roach already that afternoon, I took my time bringing it to the surface and my net. What a beauty.

Time for a cup of tea and a mince pie.

It was now hard work controlling the float, a gusting downstream wind not helping, but the roach were still there.

Now disaster struck. Somehow my reel line snagged around a root at my feet and I jerked it free, snapping the line. Rather than cutting off my float, then rethreading new line through the rod rings back to the float, I opted to tie a blood knot to rejoin the two ends. Even with cold, shaking hands, I completed this and continued fishing, but the knot kept catching in the small rings of the rod, ruining my float presentation. This was the end of my bites. It had been a rewarding two and a half hours, packing up at 2:30.