Friday, 29 January 2016

Warwickshire Avon – It’s Not Cricket

River fishing for Roach is a gentleman’s game and usually fair play is paramount however sometimes you have to flirt with your best friends Wife, a little underhand but ultimately there’s no harm done, it keeps the blood flowing and life’s interest ticking over. The Roach, particularly the large and rare ones are a fish to be treasured, they deserve respect and therefore balanced tackle that goes with it.

In the early 17th century, it was decided by English aristocrats that cricket would be played in a ‘gentlemanly manner'!

Often, the phrase, ‘gentleman’s game’ is used to describe cricket. When we think of cricket, we think of mild-mannered men in white flannels, with their shirts tucked in and their neatly parted hair. A pat on the back, a gentle handshake or sharing a joke while walking back to the pavilion are also the images that pop up in our mind. It is a game that, so they say, segregates the classy from the crude, and ‘the boorish from the benign’.

Historically, the standard of sportsmanship was considered so high that the phrase "it's just not cricket" was coined in the 19th century to describe unfair or underhanded behaviour in any walks of life.

However, in recent time and the changing game this phrase is surely debatable….

So for this session I was bolt rigging for Roach….

You What!!!!!!

I had planned to use bread discs exclusively but with a little more colour in the water than expected it was out with the Lobworms. Roach love them you see and particularly when fishing a bait static it does seem to single out the larger stamp of fish, the problem is, the bites come thick and fast…

Bang, twang, thump, rattle

The problem is despite it being a Barbel bite in miniature more often than not you are striking in to thin air. The size of the bait certainly has an influence in bites received, on one session I had Roach feeding uncontrollably and violently on whole lobworms but recast a half eaten one and they largely avoided it the crafty beggars, try and feed a kid a broken biscuit, they will burst in to tears.

The bites received are proper fast snatch and grab after a few tip rattles and a missed strike the lobworm is bruised and battered and the Roach has a full stomach.

I tried the usual helicopter set-up which is a bolt rig as such as eventually the fish is hooked on the weight of the feeder but for some reason it didn’t have the same effect when a larger hook was used and the maggots swopped for a lobworm. Roach have small mouths and lobs are a gobstopper so bites are missed because the hook isn’t anywhere near the intended target despite the fish sucking in the worm Perch esk and registering the bite. I’ve changed, modified, swopped and adapted my rig over those frustrating sessions and now have something that works reasonably well.

It’s a little like the Chub Poka-Yoke rig in that ignore the sharp twangs and rattles and wait till the rod is properly wrapped over, no real need to strike either.

One of the biggest changes was the hook pattern, I now use a Guru QM1 hook in size 10 (The largest available and just about the right size), it looks like a miniature circle hook, heavily swept shape a short shank and beaked point, it gives fantastic hook-ups.

Despite being barbless the shape helps to retain a wriggly lobworm and being PTFE coated that sharpness is retained which is a must for the rig to work effectively. The hook is tied to a 2ft hooklink and secured to the main line with a quick change bead. A small Drennan gripmesh feeder is largely inconspicuous and it runs up and down the line and stopped in its tracks with a moveable grippa stop, the beauty of this is as it’s adjustable if the bolt effect isn’t working correctly you can make modifications to improve the self hooking rate.

The feeder is filled with liquidised bread and to keep the Roach in a feeding mood, the bread is combined with aniseed flavoured hemp seed and a few red maggots…

hemp to Roach is a little like Haribo Tangfastics to a 4 year old, they love the stuff and gets them in a feeding frenzy, and when they discover it the bites are quick and aplenty.

Having ‘misplaced’ my newly purchased Salter Scales I decided to retrace my steps and head to the same swim that I know has some nice Roach in residence to try and bypass the humdrum see if there were some larger specimens within the shoal. Roach are in pockets along the length of the Warwickshire Avon but its surprising just how localised they are and many areas are completely devoid of them. I didn’t give the swim nearly enough time in the previous session so the plan was to set my stall out for an extended session. Rod properly secured with front and back rest and also my rucksack seat to provide some luxurious backside support.

As a roving angler in the main, sat on ones backside it feels alien to me, but from time to time depending on the session it works.

Now I found the scales pretty quickly and upon settling in to the swim bites were some forthcoming and most bites resulted in fish. They properly give the worm a right doing over but ignore the sharp pulls and rattles and as I said before wait till it properly hoops over. After an hour or so with Roach up to 14oz's the rain started, now it was the rain that gets you wet, you know the horrible stuff, so I went for a wander to the wilds past the bridge.

I fished a couple of swims in and around the bridge and then walked upstream as far as the thicket allowed. There was signs of a vagrant sleeping rough, makeshift bed, fire and even a sofa and a couple of whicker chairs but he wasn't home today, to be honest it looked like he's moved on a long time ago.

The last swim was chock full of Roach, and most were half decent too, 7 oz's and over and again they loved the lobworm. The rain had started again in anger so I headed back after an enjoyable day.

I'm sure there are much bigger fish to be had here but as I'm not renewing the book for the new season, I may never know for sure.


  1. Love the bitcabout the kid and the broken biscuit. Tru dat

  2. Love the bitcabout the kid and the broken biscuit. Tru dat

    1. Weird isn't it, then again more for me.

  3. What are your thoughts on the pike potential Mick, ive never ventured that far above the mill, but it does look inviting.

    1. Well they are there that's for sure, not sure they are the biggest though, some early doubles though, I've seen the pics.


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