Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Roach on Bread Update - Round 2

Roach of 1-4-10, last week
 A comment on my previous post left me in no uncertainty that I had not covered all of the important angles in my previous attempt http://floatflightflannel.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/big-roach-quest-with-bread-rolls-on.html so I’ve covered a few more seemingly important factors here to fill some of the gaps
The gnome impression is probably best:
I briefly tried a roving approach of feeding three swims and alternating them and, while I haven't abandoned it, it seems probable that it is more likely to work only when you are fortunate enough to drop straight on them in one of those spots, otherwise I think they simply wander past whenever they do and that is when you need to be alert to the situation and capitalise; it is possible, by wandering around, that the shoal might even be missed. So, on that basis it seems better to stay put in the same peg especially if pole fishing, although roving with a pole is perfectly practicable if kit is cut down down to the bare minimum
From whence did they come?
As it happens the pound plus roach have all been fooled in the boat channel, usually right at the bottom of the far slope which is, of course, where we are furthest from their sight line and still within two or three inches of the deepest point. Bearing in mind this is before boat traffic starts and so they should be located there seeking out food they may not have been able to get to the previous day, on these heavily trafficked waters, but, having said that, if notes had been made of the locations of the larger topping fish they may have shown a good percentage of them to have been closer to the near bank than one might anticipate from the unhealthily centrally-heated warmth of the lounge
Size is everything:
Anecdotal evidence from Jeff Hatt http://idlersquest.blogspot.com confirms the average big roach size from the western end of the North Oxford Canal to be 1-7-0. I just knew his would be bigger than mine, it’s the hookers he hangs-out with early mornings http://idlersquest.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/up-at-crack-of-dawn.html. There must be a logical reason why the fish at the far western end of the canal appear to be bigger on average than more centrally...if only we knew why. The canal at Hawkesbury junction is quite wide and on my single visit with Jeff it was clearer and darker than the stretches further east. The depth was not noticeably greater and one might expect this to be a factor in fish size. The average of those over a pound in my area of attack is showing as around 1-2-0. Now it is perfectly possible that Jeff, as a better angler, may take fish of around his average further east and, ultimately, south. Nevertheless one might expect that 50 hours’ effort would have thrown up the odd fish over Jeff’s average, but not so
Further west than the experiment has been run might well be worth a shot next if one can drum-up the enthusiasm to venture further afield at dawn. The canal stretches from the aforementioned junction in the west at Coventry, east to Rugby, where it skirts the north and east of the town, and then down to Braunston in the south some 23 miles distant, where the combined Grand Union and Oxford canals diverge again after converging at Napton, and the whole search thus far has been spent in an area just east of centre
No! Timing is everything:

Sunrise - you cannot beat it for uplifting the spirit
Early morning suits best as it then frees up the rest of the day whether that be at work or home but generations of specialist anglers accept that dusk and just into dark is the best time to catch larger roach and, as this is not something which had been attempted on this quest, it cannot be discounted that larger specimens would not succumb when light levels drop and feeding confidence rises. It isn’t just the user-friendliness of dawn sessions, but you simply cannot beat being up at that tiem of day and watching everything unfold before your very eyes. There is an undoubted invigorating ambience about this time of day that the average mortal is oblivious to
Other baits:
Lobworms have taken many of the good roach at the western end but, from past experience, this has never been a particularly successful bait for roach in the central and southern areas of the canal. Again however, an after dark approach may change this experience. I can only recall two decent roach on worm in all the hours of matches from the past and a lot of this may have been down to the fact that there were a good few decent perch to get to the bait first
Caster is an obvious one and, in all honesty, this would probably be more consistently successful than bread but an aversion to fishing tackle shops does not help when the only way to obtain the bait sensibly is to buy those run-off by the dealer or else to buy maggots the week before and riddle them oneself (the latter being by far the preferred method to ensure obtaining those huge, tense, multi-coloured shells that really hit the mark and instill confidence that a bait will really work
In my youth, we are going back a bit here admittedly, cheese was successful when it was hot and took some roach well over the pound mark particularly in hot weather which is also prime time for hemp of course. This latter bait can lose its effectiveness for the bigger fish once it is widely used, particularly by match anglers who (by sheer weight of numbers) can influence the habits of fish noticeably, and so the hope remains that if this was used sparingly and preferably in hot weather, but certainly in July to September, it may well produce some good specimens too

Water clarity:

Water clarity last weekend
This is a factor which seemed super-important when trying to build a net of roach in a match but in specialist terms is seems quite obvious that it is far less relevant and this has been borne-out on the last two trips, photo's of which catches were shown in the previous post, one in water where the view was at least a foot down into the gloom and another when the visbility sub-surface was no more than a couple of inches after heavy rain. I guess if the bait is there and a shoal move through they're going to find it and the only barrier is probably excessively clear water

So, still lots to find out and that's what makes it so captivating. More to follow I'm sure!

Ordnance Survey Guide to theWaterways 2: Central, Nicholson 1991


  1. An interesting read George,

    as I fish the Thames it might not be wise of me to try and draw comparisons, but I too have found that the gnome impression generally to produce better instead of opting for a more mobile approach. I have also found that fading light or just into dusk to be key times.

    Looking forward to reading more of your trips after the redfins, as it is thought provoking and helpful, even though it is a totally different type of venue to which I fish.

    1. I'm sure many of the factors are the same wherever you fish Mark but one thing I'd love to try is bread on rivers which it seems is far more successful in coloured water than it would be on a canal generally speaking. I recall Ray Mumford catching roach and chub on bread in coloured conditions on the Ouse and Nene when I was younger