Winter, what winter? (roach article and video, entry 436)


Click images above to enlarge

Following my excursion to the coast, that lent itself to two separate Angling Journal entries, it was back to business as normal as I took on the challenge of targeting roach on a lake. The reality though is whether I am chucking a 6oz lead into the ocean, or flicking one of 1/8th of an ounce into the margin of a pond, I’m just happy to be fishing.

The great thing about angling is that it can be to each one of us what we want. Whether we be dedicated single-species anglers or very occasional fishermen who only venture out when the sun shines, the choice is ours. That’s why I don’t understand people who criticise the angling habits of others. If a guy wants to bivvie up, fish for only barbel, only go out at night or whatever, so what.

As for me, I can be vacation dab fishing on the Friday and then on the Sunday evening be back home and after roach. And that’s exactly what happened. The first session is the one feature in the video and although I didn’t catch, I share my rig and bait approach, along with my other usual rambling thoughts.

In fact the blank of the opening session was repeated twice as my first three short evening visits to the lake all remained fish-less. I did have a few taps and plucks though, but nothing developed beyond that. Sometimes that’s the way it is in angling, and certainly on this venue I have found that while I am not catching lots of fish, the ones I do are good ones. Suits me.

The majority of waters that contain roach hold lots of small ones, so being able to fish somewhere where you not only need the landing net for what you catch, you don’t get sucked baits every time you cast out, is a real luxury. The flavouring that you can see in the video is Phaze, which is primarily a boilie dip made by SBS.

And on the subject of SBS I had a call from Des Taylor informing me that the company has been sold. From my perspective it was all very sudden and certainly as my connection was very much with Des, it also meant that my personal involvement with the company ended as well. Although I had been running the social network / media side of things (YouTube, facebook and twitter) in recent months, my bait involvement goes back much further.

These things happen. As for the bait, for the cynics who claim that people only promote something because there is something in it for them, I had already made up my mind that I would continue to fish with SBS Baits anyway regardless. And then I had a totally unexpected email from the new owners which has resulted in me being back on board. Happy days!

But back to the fishing. After three blanks on the tackle and bait approach I had been on I decided to change things totally. Going for a 20g cage feeder which was filled with brown crumb (SBS!) and live white maggots, the business end was a single white maggot on a size 18 hook. Whenever I have to tie hooks that small I realise just how much my eyes have deteriorated. In fact for a while I have been using reading glasses for finer details when at the water’s edge.

It was a stormy evening as I arrived at the lake and so up went my umbrella. I’ve been getting through so many in recent years, this time I decided to stop wasting my money on expensive junk and go for cheap junk instead! And I can report that my £20 was well spent, although it’s a good job I’m not a tackle tart as the ‘cheap and nasty’ logo on the outside would be an embarrassment!

As there was an hour or so before dark it was no surprise that since I was using maggot instead of corn I got amongst the perch. I ended up with several fish and they were pretty decent, with one of them featured in photo 1. The lake is very clear and I always think there is something magical about the look of a perch as it twists and turns in clear water. Which reminds me of another venue, but that’s for another day and another Angling Journal entry.

Once it became dark and the white-clawed crayfish, pipistrelles, daubenton’s, tawny owl and brown rats coming alive, the perch went off for their usual early night. Although I didn’t get any roach though during the hours of darkness I caught a tench and a couple of crucian carp, all of which can be seen in the photos at the head of the article. The tench put in an appearance first and initially I thought I had hooked a monster roach.

But from the fight I wasn’t surprised when, instead of a silver flash with red fins, I found myself looking at the golden green of a late autumn tench as it battled in vain to avoid the net. Then following that I had the two crucians. I love that species, not just because of their exclusivity in the sense that genuine ones are not widespread, but because they are truly magnificent fish. I love everything about them.

So, no roach but a mixed bag of perch, tench and crucian carp. And it was the latter two in particular that had me tweeting ‘Winter? What winter?’ I always tweet from the water’s edge by the way, so if you want to follow my exploits live then that’s where to go. Plus my twitter is linked to my facebook page, so between them I communicate what’s going on when I’m out and about, along with lots of other stuff as well.

I rounded the entry off by returning to the lake for a final session. It was quite late when I got there so just had enough time to set up and cast before headtorch time. It didn’t deter the perch though and the first fish of the evening was exactly that. There wasn’t a flurry of dusk feeding though and the only other one I caught was very nocturnal who must have fancied a snack when he should have been tucked up for the night.

I didn’t net any roach but a couple of tench obliged. They were cracking bites that not only moved the tip but also took the rod with them as well. Not into the water of course, just that the power of the take caused the whole rod from butt to tip to come alive. The first one was the bigger of the two (photo 5) although it actually came in very gently. Until it was in the net, then it went ballistic. On 2.5lb line I’m glad it didn’t wake up till then.

So, no roach but after a slow start I did end up with a mixed bag of fish. It’s always great to catch my favourite species the perch whatever the circumstances. And tench will always be welcome. But the highlight of the week was definitely the crucian carp. In fact if I didn’t declare a species and went fishing for whatever came along it would have been a brilliant catch at this time of the year.

And that’s how I see it anyway. The roach are elusive on this venue, I’ve already worked that out. Specimen angling is always going to be more of a marathon than a sprint and rather than be disappointed with no roach I’m over the moon with the crucians. As for winter, what winter? Well I remember last December a red campion was still in growth alongside the canal. A week later the weather seriously turned and didn’t recover properly till March. Take each day as it comes and enjoy it for what it is. (Published November 19 2011)

This week’s video that accompanies the article: 


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