A Winter Roach

Working again in Wessex, I planned another fishing trip this Sunday to the River Stour.

The weather forecast for this weekend was certainly more favourable than the last; with better temperatures and no easterly wind. Although there were high winds and rain forecast, I did not let this put me off.

Sunday morning arrived.  as I peered out of my window and it was clear that the weathermen had done their job this week. It was grey, cold and raining, I’d better wrap up warm.

A friend of mine, (who is actually the bailiff for the stretch of the River Stour I intended to fish), telephoned in the morning to say that there was a competition match on the river . Ah no! I could not believe it. Unperturbed, he advised that there was a stretch further up river where the match-men would not be, and that we could go, and more importantly, the fishing there was really good. I advised that I would be parking up in the usual spot, assess the situation and would plan an attack from there. Travelling via the tackle shop again, I arrived and parked up. I was very pleased to note that there were actually only eight people fishing the match, so was confident that I still could fish the area I wanted, undisturbed.

Creel, slung on the shoulder, grabbed a flask of tea, along with the rods and began my trek across the fields. The first spot I wanted to fish was taken by a match angler. A little disappointed I continued on, I stumbled upon an area that I had actually forgot about. Almost like a beach, sloping slowly down to the waters edge, hard under foot, and gravelly. The only downside being that I was not out of the wind, which was actually blowing rather fiercely. I know that Roach love gravel areas, and at the other side of the river I knew there to be a deep channel where the river slows up, a classic Roach swim.

I had intended for fish with two rods today, one trotting a float down the swim, and the other on the river bed with a swimfeeder full of groundbait. At first I prepared some groundbait, mixing it with water from the river. I made quite a solid mix and threw three or four golf ball sized handful’s into the desired spot. Letting the swim develop and leaving the fish to hopefully enter the area, I began setting up my ledger rod. I put together a rod that I named the ‘little tinca‘. I had it made purely for Tench fishing but thought that it would have the power to hold a swimfeeder full of wet groundbait. Thankfully it did, and before too long I had cast into the swim. Using my new Aerial I had to be very careful as even with my cack-handed Wallis casts, I knew that I would hit the opposite bank. Instead opted for the ‘Nottingham Style‘ cast which employs paying off line from the reel and cast from there. Much easier to determine distance.

After some time I reeled in to re-bait and re-cast to find that I had indeed hooked a small Roach. It was so small that the rod tip did not indicate any bite. I re-cast, and this time saw the very slightest of bites, and again had hooked a very small Roach. With the swim like this I did not bother to set-up a second rod to float fish and stuck to ledger tactics. I did miss the sight of my quill float sailing nonchalantly through the swim. I can’t remember the last time I ever used ledger tactics? but it seemed to be working today. I did however change my rod to my Fred J Taylor, which, although is still strong, has a nice action tip so I could see more clearly bites when and if they arrived. I also realised that I had christened my new Aerial reel, and it had been done in style, with a winter Stour Roach.

My friend joined me some time later and he set-up round a bend in the river just downstream of myself. He had some huge Roach and said he hadn’t had a day like it in ages.

As dusk began to fall I lost two big Roach, one after the other. Half way across the river flow they simple fell off the hook. Of course I was disappointed. All I had caught all day were small Roach, but I really had no terms for complaint as I had lost count of the Roach I had caught and had a fantastic day. After reeling in a nice Dace it was evident I had a Pike, or a number of ‘Pike’s’ in my swim. That was one of the luckiest Dace around, as not fifteen feet from the bank, the river ‘erupted’ as a Pike made tracks for this Dace, narrowly missing it and spooking on the sight of me. I began to get hefty knocks on the rod tip and reeled in to find no fish. Sometimes, as I was reeling in a Pike was actually attacking my empty cage feeder.

Pike stopped play, and my friend also had Pike trouble. We called it a day, but what a day.

I look forward to getting to the river again for the last few days of this fishing season, and who knows what awaits? I only hope the river is in the same mood as she was today.

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