My search for a 3 lb river roach
FOR me, a 3 lb-plus river roach is the Holy Grail of coarse fishing, and my quest for such a fish has been a long and arduous journey, one that I still haven’t completed. I have been close on a few occasions, but no cigar!
I have been very fortunate to have caught several stillwater three-pounders, having enjoyed the golden period of roach fishing at Sway Lakes, in Hampshire, but there is something very special about river roaching, especially in the depths of winter, when they can be caught on a float and bread.
My local rivers, the Hampshire Avon, Dorset Stour, Frome and Test, all still have the potential to produce my dream fish.
It would seem that the big shoals of quality roach that used to frequent these rivers have now virtually disappeared, but there are signs of recovery, with anglers managing reasonable bags of modest-sized fish and an occasional two-pounder.
Selecting better roach, by fishing bread under a float, is all about getting the presentation right, a lesson that I learnt from
A big bucket of bread mash and a loaf of Warburtons Toastie is perfect for a day’s fishing for specimen roach. the late ‘Fred The Bread’ Smith back in the 1970s. When I saw his set-up, I was completely blown away by his great big balsa floats, his string of swan shot and his thumbnail pieces of bread flake.
It was a world apart from my small stick float and maggot approach, but I soon realised that Fred’s method was far more selective. I could usually catch a mixed bag of modest roach, chub, dace and grayling, but big redfins eluded me. Fred explained to me that I really needed to offer a largish bait that a big roach could easily suck in, but it needed to be presented slightly slower than the speed of the current.
To encourage the shoals of roach to feed, bread mash was introduced little and often. His float rig was set so that he could hold it back against the current, allowing the hook bait to flutter up right in front of the roach.
You know what? Nothing has changed. Fred’s approach is exactly the way I set up my stall these days, the only difference being that there are now some very good, commercially available river floats with loadings of between
4 and 10 g.
Olivettes are definitely far more convenient than a string of SSGs, and I will usually include a micro swivel, for the olivette to rest against, which also allows me to tie on a low-diameter hook link.
Hook choice is also important: it needs to be a lightweight size 12 or 14 with a wide gape and a round bend. If a river is running very clear, I will opt for a slightly smaller bait on A 2 lb river roach for Andy, but he’s still waiting to catch a magic 3.
A typical roach glide on the Dorset Stour. the lowest diameter hook link don’t mask the point. It doesn’t that I can get away with, but in take long before you get the perfect conditions (coloured hang of folding the flake around and high), a piece of flake the the back of the hook with the size of a thumbnail is needed. point facing away from you.
The flake just needs to be I will normally make up a big folded around the shank of the bucket of bread mash by cutting hook, held in place with a light the crusts off some stale loaves, squeeze, making sure that you before giving them a good soak