Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Trotting for Roach and Chub - Hemp and Caster

Piscatorially speaking, there isn't much better than a chunky river roach. I just couldn't stop thinking about the shoal I'd seen last time out and just had to have a little go for them.
 With this in mind, it was the Earl Grey that I reached for to fill the flask.

After quite an eventful 35 minute journey where I actually saw some mad bloke unleash his dog on a busy main road to run in front of me and test my emergency stop skills, I eventually reached the fishery gate.
 With six cars in the car park I wondered if the swim I wanted  would be taken. Luckily, it isn't a favoured barbel swim and as I walked up the beat I counted the anglers and knew I'd be fine. In fact I had the whole of the upstream section to myself, perfect.
 The swim looked good and as I threw in a pinch of hemp a fish rose to grab it. I'd seen the roach do this last time out with my pellet, promising.

 Having over-cooked and ruined two batches of tares, today's baits of choice would be hemp and caster as the mainstay, and soft hookable pellet and sweetcorn as alternatives to be used on about every tenth trot.
 Whilst feeding the swim I tackled up with a bulk shotted 4BB Drennan balsa float and 1lb 14oz hooklink to size 18 hook.
 The cast was a bit tricky in that the float needed to pass through a gap in the trees to find the pacier far side water. The slacks being the domain of some sizeable carp who'd seen it all before and just wished to watch from the fringes with a knowing look that said, "You've seen me but I've also seen you." 
 Having primed the swim with hemp I stopped to have tea without baiting, my thinking being that by the time I ventured a trot the fish would be searching out single straggling morsels. So, when I finally cast through the tree fronds, saw the float bob on it's way, then promptly vanish, I wasn't surprised. The first fish to come to me was a small chub, not the hoped for roach. 
 The plan of baiting was to be a pinch of hemp and caster alternately,  baited little and often. Then two or three grains of sweetcorn or hooker pellets to be fed occasionally. It's easy to overfeed so one needs to be quite disciplined and a bit robotic, this is the bit that lets me down. I don't really care for disciplined angling, but the thought of fat roach made me try...a bit.
 When one gets the cast, the trot and the retrieve right it really is a joy, add to that the feed and the little tweeks, and a 'feel' for the swim is soon attained.
 A trot with a caster led to a quick bite and I was soon looking through the water at a sizeable roach, they really are most majestic in battle, spirited, yet composed. They fight without the panic of other fish.
 As I netted her I knew that she'd already made my day........

The noblist of fish, on release she just glided away, seemingly unconcerned by it all.
 I consumed a slice of fruit cake as I rested the swim for a while, but upped the feed a bit, just in case her shoal mates were still about. This turned out to be a wrong move, as the events of the next couple of hours proved...A veritable cavalcade of chub ensued.
 The first coming to my first trot on the pellet....

I stuck with the pellet for the second.......

 Knowing that the chub had moved in I tried a grain of corn, this resulted in a cracking fight which had me thinking I'd hooked a barbel, but no....

 This fish is absolute belter for the stretch of river.
 With the chub now coming in quick succession and me releasing them in the the next swim up. I arrived at a stage where I didn't stop for photos on a few captures. It became clear that if I wanted more roach I'd first have to catch all the greedy chub...A fine problem indeed.

Sometime within this bonanza the heavens opened to a hailstorm. I was pelted for about a quarter of an hour. It also had the effect of whipping up a hearty blow. Wet rods and wind, the bane of the long trotter. I was constantly towelling down the rod to dry it out and stop the line sticking to it. It didn't stop the chub coming though.

 And then, once again on the caster and out of the blue came another one of those bites, and I instantly knew I was into another silvery beauty. I sat in awe of her as she casually swam in front of me to the waiting net. Such a lovely fish....

...Scale perfect, real roach perfection.

 I was still struggling with everything being wet, the moisture had seeped into the backplate of my reel and was causing it to make a rather disturbing noise. I'm amazed at how little it takes to stop these marvels of engineering running free. All this became quite immaterial shortly after, because although the sun had now tried to come out, my reel decided that it would much rather be at the bottom of the river than on my Chapman 500 and promptly detached itself and jumped in!

Retrieval wasn't too difficult but it was definitely time to have tea and food in order to take stock and compose myself and my tackle.
 Whilst generally milling around waiting for things to dry in the sun I came across what I believe to be cyclamen, growing loud and proud at the riverside. I don't believe it's a native plant so can only assume it was washed down in a flood from someones garden. It was a nice surprise all the same.

Feeling fully refreshed it was time to get back to the angling and the resuming trot on the caster resulted in a right old character of a chub that knew every bolt hole in the swim. He fought well, but once again the old cane came good with the light tackle and this elder statesman was eventually subdued, bless him.

He'd led me a merry old dance and completely trashed the swim. I had visions of fish scattering in all directions.
 Time was pushing on but I persisted with the caster having tried hemp on the hook to no avail. The next five trots produced some rather fat minnows, so it's hardly surprising that the sixth produced my only perch of the day, which in the absence of chub (and now minnow) in the swim seized the opportunity for an easy feed.

 The caster was fed little and often for the next fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes without a bite meant I'd caught all the chub. I thought that it might be a good time to nick another roach and was proved correct as the float dipped and I saw a silver and red blur beneath the flow. Another cracker was soon mine...

The float here is for scale.

After release I tried unsuccessfully for another ten or so trots for a shoalmate . Thereafter, I was happy to rest upon my laurels considering that I'd had a fine day.
 I'm looking towards winter with much excitement. There are much bigger roach to be found on this river, of that I'm sure, and I will keep on trying for my holy grail.


  1. Crackin Roach Gurn. In fact, looks like a fine days haul. Couple of things...
    I suspect the cyclamen to have been in our wild woodlands long before the gardeners got their mitts on them and secondly, wait til you get home before you rinse your reel off ;O)

    1. Thanks Richard,
      Took my reel quite some time to recover from it's ordeal. That's the first time that's ever happened, probably won't be the last though.:-)

  2. Eventful day to say the least Gurn. Love the roach, proper fatties I'm very jealous. I know you have a thing about weights but any 2lb roach needs to be declared - its the law you know. So, did any reach the magic mark? The last one can't be far off surely.

  3. Honest truth Dave, I didn't weigh it...and I'm pleased I didn't as well :-)
    When I get a possible pb, I will. I reckon my holy grail is there somewhere.
    Looking forward to hearing about you and Bumbles Perch exploits.