Sunday, 13 December 2015

Warwickshire Stour – Big Roach Quest, Knead for Seed

The more Roach I catch the more I appreciate them as a species, found everywhere from the village pond, pools, lakes and in the biggest of rivers and the smallest of streams. I’ve never really targeted them specifically but then maybe I should, I’ve not even recorded my captures in the past, not sure why just one of those things. I fish the streams and rivers of Warwickshire in the main, not the biggest stamp of fish admittedly but the quality is right up there, the humble Roach really are stunning creatures.

Why not go and fish the River Test for a big'un or go bolt rigging for the 'Roach' at Lochnaw Castle?

Nah I enjoy what I do within my tiny patch and the relative mediocrity that goes with it....well until I get bored anyway.

This week I was shared some Roach catch reports from a clubs matches that took place on the Warwickshire Stour. There were some encouraging signs for a potential capture of a specimen. The biggest Redfin caught in matches has increased year on year and information detailed as recent as last month some proper'uns have been turning up.

….well nearing 2lb in weigh in layman’s terms,which ain’t bad for a small river in Bards Country I can tell thee.

Ironically the Sunday before on route to Sweet Knowle Aquatics with the family, we passed over Wimpstone bridge and I was amazed at the river level. With the Avon properly up and strong tea coloured it looked perfectly fishable and at normalish levels. On the return after purchasing a Thai crab, some sort of sucker fish and 6 Mickey Mouse Platey’s to replace the fish the neighbour 'accidently' over fed whilst we were on holiday we passed over the bridge again, and it looked so inviting.

It had a lovely emerald bluey tinge to it, like a bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

....and I just had to fish it as soon as I could.

There were specifics detailed in the information shared and the larger Roach were from one particular location, however before visiting that area (when I renew my book for the 2015 / 2016 season) I'd fish an area a little further downstream that I've never seen another angler, not sure why though, it’s a bit of a trek from the car but then surely that’s a good thing, well it is in my book it is, as it means you’d be sharing the day with the sheep and flight and enjoying their humanless solitude.

Because of the long trek, luckily this beat isn’t on the matchman’s radar and the stereotypical angling sluggard and lard arse.

I was hoping concentrating on this one area where the fish are under less pressure would likely make the fish less wary and eventually after plugging away the bigger fish would eventually let their guard down and reveal themselves.

Well that was the theory...

One problem though the Stour has frequent club matches (there was one on today) and it’s a lottery when these take place. It’s very much finger in the air…as are the duck shoots which appear to happen just as sporadically. If a match is indeed on, you have limited water to go at and best not fish when there is wildfowling going on despite moving quite a distance away you’d still get covered in lead shot (I did anyway). I’d caught a pristine 12oz Roach in September from the Stour and fancied another dabble for them, it's my sort of fishing this.

The streamier and weedier upper reaches are also of interest next season but for now the slightly wider parts of the river with some decent holes and varying depths are plenty enough for me to go at. The upper reaches are a short car journey away from here and yet couldn’t be more different as it contains some wild brown trout for starters, very chalk stream like, particularly in the summer when it’s low, shallow and pacey. In April and May, when there is a small Mayfly hatch you may well even spot a fluff chucker or three. I’ve walked the length and there are some nice holes and troughs that Roach and Dace are likely to reside.

Freelining bread in the summer months on this sort of river, I've just GOT to do it...(I can see the Wife's eyes glaze over as I write this)

As much as I love the Warwickshire Avon, this small river is more my thing, I know I'm limiting the size of the fish I catch, but for me, location and the enjoyment that goes with it is up there with the PB's too. I really could spend a whole year trying to track down decent river Roach in Warwickshire but I like fishing for most species throughout the year for a bit of variety so I only usually manage a handful of trips.

Decisions, Decisions….maybe I need to become even more specialised and dedicated like my Canal Zander challenge....?

Nah,....BUT if I DID catch a good Roach I could easily be swayed.

With my trotting skills still very much familiar and the 14ft Acolyte Drennan (I’d now bought off a mate) still set-up from the recent Itchen trip for this session I’d have another dabble for a decent fish. With a job lot of past their best maggots left and hemp over (mental note, just take a couple of tins of sweetcorn for the Grayling next time) I’d loose feed these mixed with some liquidised bead and alternate between small bread discs and maggot on the hook.

My head was hazy from a Saturday night in Warwick but roving a small river in the winter is one way to a clearer head and the aftereffects of a lamb madras, better outdoors that in.

The problem was as soon as I got to the river I realised it would be a tough day, the river was on the rise and weak tea coloured, debris would likely be a problem too.

The float went down nicely but after at least 6 or 7 swims and a few hours without a bite, I was struggling. I decided to head back to the car get my small feeder rod and fish a static bait to try and tempt at least a Chub....

A simple helicopter feeder set-up....

Again 4 or 5 swims I was struggling, they are not feeding today.

I decided to walk to the end of the stretch where there was an overhanging tree, I bet it looks completely different in the summer but it looked very Chubby indeed.

I added a little bread disk to the size 16 hook this time and dropped it in and amongst the branches. Within seconds there was some taps and knocks and then the tip knocked violently, I struck and a fish was on.

This was a Chub, only a small one though and despite giving a good account for itself it was quickly netted...

The app on my iPhone tracks my steps and today I covered 4.25 miles. Poor fishing, no Roach but my head was clear and at least I didn't blank.


  1. I bet when they come they won't come from anywhere that looks like a typical chub swim. Just some dull looking piece of water you'd pass on by. Looks well worth exploring. Wider than I thought it would be...

    1. Yeah the roach generally come from the featureless swims, I fish another couple of the stour stretches and you could jump from one side to the other, particularly the summer when it's clear its a bite a chuck too. Plenty of potential though, and that keeps me coming back. Fishing was difficult, I must admit, the colour didn't do me any favours.

  2. Worm may have scored better. They seem to work very well for roach when the water is coloured but not when it's clear. I was surprised last year to catch a Sowe pounder and plenty of smaller ones on worm whilst trying to find gudgeon. I'd watched them ignore worms completely in clear conditions. Just turn their noses up at them, but that day it was one after the other.

    1. If I would have known the colour it was before I went that would be the bait of choice as does seem to sort out the better stamp of fish. I've a job lot turning up this week so will give it more of a bash over the Christmas break.

      The Barbel like bites you get are great, seems to be bigger the worm the better too, worked well on the Avon.

      The river was on the rise whilst I was there, I'm sure a later session when the river is on the drop and clearing would be the best bet.

      Hook size ? I like size 12 B983 but I'm thinking maybe a lighter gauge spade end might be the better choice. I've Drennan wide gape some hook to nylon somewhere, might use them with the helicopter set-up.

      What I did learn though is how much I like trotting. Need practice though, James makes it look easy especially line retrieval.


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