Tag: roach

Before the lockdown

Arriving for a coarse fishing lesson I found cold, clear conditions. There had been a frost overnight and I was worried the fish would be slow to respond. In fact I caught roach straight away. In the middle of winter I think it would have been different, but with spring kicking into life the fish were becoming more active.

Spring morning by the lake

When Jessica and Jana turned up, one of the first things they learned to do was bait the hook with maggots. This required concentration at first:

Baiting the hook

They were soon both catching roach using whips (short rods with no reel):

Jessica's roach
Jana's roach

They then had to unhook them. It is important to handle fish with wet hands (warm, dry hands damage the fish by removing their protective slime), so I always have buckets of water handy:

Unhooking a roach

The disgorger is essential for extracting the hook when it is inside the fish’s mouth, out of reach of your fingers. It is best to practice first using a towel in place of a fish, as Jessica is doing here:

Using a disgorger

Once we have unhooked and admired our fish, we return it carefully to the water. A gentle lob is OK with small ones, but keep low so as not to scare any which still lurk uncaught nearby:

Returning a fish to the water

Next we had a look at how to set up a rod and reel. First we attached the reel to the rod:

Setting up rod and reel
Setting up rod and reel

Then we threaded the line through the guides:

Threading the line up the rod

Jana did a dry land exercise on how to bring in a fish (played by Jessica!) without it breaking the line:

Learning to play a fish

Then Jessica had a go. It takes time to learn how to handle a rod and reel, but these exercises at least give you an idea what to do when a large, powerful fish takes hold.

Learning to play a fish

After that we spent some time waggler fishing with the rod and reel. My pupils both got the hang of casting and controlling the line, in fairly difficult crosswind conditions, and caught a few more roach. We finished off by learning some knots:

Knot tying

By the end of the session we were basking in the first properly warm conditions this year. Unfortunately the virus lockdown started the next day and I had to postpone all my bookings. Let’s hope we can soon get back out on the banks.

Mixed fortunes on the river

Over the last few months, heavy rain and flooding more or less put a stop to my usual winter river fishing, but recently I did manage a few trips.

On the first of these the river was absolutely bombing through, so I made a start in a slack water swim where fish might be holding on the edge of the current. When I arrived the sun was shining, but soon the skies darkened and it started raining. I put up my umbrella and peered out from underneath it:

Fishing under an umbrella

For bait I was using cheese paste which creates a scent trail detectable by fish even in muddy flood water. After a couple of hours I had a positive pull on the rod tip which I somehow missed. Of course, it might have been a branch or bit of weed catching the line; one of the problems of high water fishing is the amount of debris brought down on the flow.

I moved to a swim at the top end of a lock cutting which offered an even more sheltered environment for the fish. Here I had a couple of chub quite quickly. The sequence of events was interesting:

  • First cast – missed bite on worm
  • Second cast – chub caught on worm
  • Third cast – missed bite on cheese
  • Fourth cast – chub caught on cheese
  • Fifth cast – missed bite on bread
  • Sixth cast – nothing!

It went quiet for a while, but as the light started to fade a sharp bite on worm resulted in a lovely roach of 1lb 5oz – a good size for this species. The photo does not do the colours of this fish justice; in reality it had shades of blue, orange and pink which were quite remarkable.

Roach 1lb 5oz

On the next trip I started on a side stream of the main river. It was a much warmer and brighter day, feeling somewhat spring like:

Small river

Again, the issue was to find the places where the current was not too turbulent. Fish don’t like being pushed around. They prefer a steady flow of water. In about the third spot I tried, this small chub quickly grabbed the cheese paste:

Head of a small chub

In the afternoon I was back fishing the lock cutting. Here the cheese and worms were ignored but I managed to catch a variety of fish on maggots including roach, perch and bream. This is one of the bream:

River bream

For the final session, two days later, I headed straight for the lock:

Fishing a lock cut

The previous time I had missed a lot of bites with my bait anchored to the bottom by a swimfeeder. With this setup, fish sometimes drop the bait before you can strike when they feel the resistance of the feeder. I wanted to see if using a float would result in more fish hooked – it is a much more subtle method.

I adjusted the float so the bait would drag the bottom, then tried to hold it back to slow it down as it drifted through the swim. This was a bit tricky as trees to my right stopped me holding the rod in the right position. Luckily the breeze was pushing the line in that direction and bringing about the desired outcome. Soon the float shot under and I felt a solid pull from this 4 pound chub:

A 4lb chub

This was a good start, but it soon became apparent that the fish generally were not in a feeding mood. All I caught otherwise was a roach. Thinking that maybe the feeder would be better after all, I gave it a try to no avail. It was a good example of how from one day to the next the response of the fish can differ, despite apparently identical conditions.

All ages can fish together

Hedley and his grandson Sebbie came along for a coarse fishing lesson. Hedley used to fish matches back in the 70s, whereas Sebbie was a complete beginner (one of many youngsters inspired to try fishing by TV programs such as Chasing Monsters).

They were soon in action with the whips:

Grandad fishing
Grandson fishing

The roach were being very finicky and there were many missed bites and some quiet spells, but they caught a few:

Roach for grandad
Sebbie's roach

Sebbie learned to cast with a rod and reel and managed one roach on this method:

Sebbie fishing with rod and reel

He then went back to the whip for more roach and this nice perch:

Sebbie's perch

Hedley was finding angling to be just as enjoyable as it ever was, even after a 40 year layoff:

Hedley fishing

In the afternoon I was joined by Sam and his son Hector, back for another session after trying fishing for the first time with me back in May.

The fishing was even slower now and after a while Hector asked if we could try the river. It turned out to be a good idea. He had bites straight away from minnows:

Hector's minnow

Then he had some chub and dace:

Small chub
Small dace

Towards the end he caught a cracking dace (no picture unfortunately) and a decent roach:

Hector's roach
Roach

Sam had been a bystander so far, but had a quick go with the whip and immediately had a dace (not as big as Hector’s, I should point out!):

Sam's dace

It was going to be Hector’s birthday the next day. I understood from Sam that a set of fishing tackle was the main present this enthusiastic young angler was going to receive.

It had been great seeing the different generations enjoying fishing together.

Sam and Hector fishing
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