Sunday, 4 November 2012

Gems of Roach

Date: 28th December 1983

Waterway: North Oxford Canal

Catch: 66 fish for 2-8-0

50 Roach to 0-1-8
14 Gudgeon to 0-1-8
2 tiny Perch

There's sad, anal & obsessive...take your pick
 Today was the first time back at this location for 29 years and, as I had only myself to consider with the Old Duffer at his most exceedingly Duff at present and out of the equation, a long walk into the early morning darkness would not be putting me off. I chose a peg three through the bridge in the above photograph on the basis that it was as far as I'd got when it became light enough to see to tackle-up...the potential factors are being treated in an ever more simplistic fashion

A distinct feeling of excitement grew as I approached the stretch I had not even seen, let alone fished, for so long

The mind plays tricks over such a long period though but one thing was certain, the canal had become considerably wider since 1983 as the far bank had deteriorated such that the possibility of a rather shallow length of cut was likely to be discovered once the plummet had done it's job; like the chalk on a snooker cue, fundamentally important at first but then put to one side. Not so however, as a seriously steady depth bank-to-bank was discovered and provided something of a pleasant surprise on the first day I had been back this autumn without half-term boat traffic to contend with, and confidence was suitably boosted

The prey of course would be big roach; in 1983 it was tiddlers or, as we called them then, 'bits' at around 25 to the pound. Worth noting however that the gudgeon were huge and if you could get onto a nest of them in a match in the '80's they were well worth targetting when 2 or 3 pounds would be a framing weight

Yep, bits!
 The bait would be flake or crust over coarse liquidised white crumb; in 1983 it was red & bronze pinkies over a fluffy mix of brown crumb and Sensas Z-72 with a glass bottle of a secret ingredient included

The float would be a cane-stemmed pole float; in 1983 it was a grey pole float very much like a scaled-down traditional avon made by a canal angling maestro and, in my humble opinion, the greatest canal angler of all time, Billy Makin

2012 - a 2 hour session. 1983 - five hours.

Viewed from the other side, The same wide-span brick-arch bridge nearly three decades on 
The confidence was tested as it took over half an hour to get a bite, but some bite! The usual sudden projection of the float insert, an apparent change of heart and then a more certain lift, which appeared to wave it's arms and shout, "For God's sake strike. This piece of flake won't last that long!".

The fish initially allowed itself to be drawn to the right away from the feed but then tore back through it, scattering any hope of another fish for the foreseeable future. Not all that soon, but after a relatively spirited battle, a clonking canal roach was drawn over the part-submerged net. 7 hours this fish had taken and it was certainly a pounder

After another spell of anticipated inactivity listening to the bird life - chuckling fieldfares, chinking chaffinches, bullfinches calling their brief recorder-like note and rooks in the distance - it was time to risk another helping of crumb feed. I say 'risk' because it had been noticed previously that feeding again after the initial introduction would kill the swim stone dead but a certain feeling prevailed, a feeling that those fish which may have been caused to hang-off the feed by the frantic attempt to escape by the first roach could be brought back onto the feed by tempting them with another helping

Persistent rain and grey skies helped to keep the roach feeding well after dawn I am sure
It went in, but would it work? A lot of the larger particles floated to the top which made me wonder how much actually reached the bottom of this fairly deep area. First drop-in the bait barely hit the deck before another staggeringly unmissable bite and a strike into a noticeably smaller fish which was quickly tamed.

The next put-in also produced an instant bite and a solid fish was felt and played for a few seconds before it managed to slip the hook. Difficult to tell whether it was bigger than the first when we are only talking ounces of difference but it was a good 'un for sure

A carefully organised weigh-in in the rain at the end of a two-hour session revealed the bigger roach to be a cracking 1-3-6 and it's smaller friend 0-14-2

Silver Jewels adorned with Rubies

A quick check of the all-time canal list indicated that this one slotted in at third behind fish of 1-3-12 in 1993 and 1-4-12 in May this year. Another trek into the distance, dimensionally and in terms of time, would soon follow I was sure

No dogs seen today but a few heard. Sadly although I can tell a few birds by song I am not quite up to scratch with dog woofs so we'll have to stick with the feathered interest:
Long-tailed tit, blue tit, blackbird, fieldfare, rook, carrion crow, mute swan, greylag goose, woodpigeon, stock dove, bullfinch, chaffinch, high-level gulls (that's not say gulls in charge but high-flying ones)


  1. A brilliant couple of redfins there George, well done.

    1. Oh, thanks Mark, all the more reason for a concerted effort through the winter now I think

  2. Love it, love it, love it!

    Great blog.

    1. Steady on Russell...but thank you anyway! I've just discovered your blog and very much enjoying that too. Good comparisons from a very different per of the world for sure

    2. Russell, Not sure if this will work but it's the only thing I can think of. I don't seem to be able to view your blog any more. Have I been sacked (or is technology getting the better of me)?!