Thursday, 21 March 2013


The realisation that a few hours could occasionally be grabbed before work at this time of year set me off on a North Oxford Canal roach hunt this morning at dawn

Boats were moored where it had been the intention whence to head but, due to the fact that I found myself unable to sleep after precisely 03.22hrs, it left me with plenty of time to ponder other options as the day was not sufficiently broken to set-up after striding-out that far at 5.15am in any case

Eventually, following much mulling-over, and dithering back and forth, a peg opposite a dormant bulrush bed was selected and perched at

As I did so a courting gang of mallards decided that was also where they would also engage in their own form of ritual, culminating in the female being all-but drowned...eggs to follow for sure. Certain aspects of this masquerade were however quite fascinating; the female swimming underwater and coyly emerging under bankside vegetation and then brazenly swimming directly toward the best-presented male for instance. Nevertheless the almighty commotion and unwillingness of the group to go elsewhere was quite disconcerting in respect of the angling prospects and I was convinced at this point that these clowns and the flock of mixed thrushes in the field opposite were to comprise the days entertainment

The day was, again, to be somewhat experimental with the newly received wand to test while also fishing another rod with a float using the lift-bite method with bread (no change in that respect then!)

Travelling ultra-light and without rod-rests presented an interesting set of challenges with two rods to arrange such they didn't get in each others way, so to speak. Initially a light link-leger was used with a whole lobworm set against the rush bed while mashed bread was introduced just past middle for the float

As per the weekend, an early boat before any bites had materialised did nothing to bolster enthusiasm but after a further feed of mash things settled into some kind of logical rhythm and by this stage mallard had steamed off into the distance given that decisons had been made and three less desirable drakes were real Charlies left quietly sulking under the brambles (even I could see that coming, they really ought to look at their reflections sometimes and take it easy!)

This, and the setting-up, took rather longer than I had hoped and so a line was not wet in anger until 06.45. The boat caused the flask to be cracked early and by 8am I was wondering if I'd be going to work with a bill longer than the rejected mallards but at 08.15 the float duly rose from the water like Excalibur and, despite trying to tidy the wand positioning at the time, a swift strike met with admirable and vigourous resistance. 'Roach or hybrid?', I pondered as it swirled twice in front of me, the rod drawing it instantly away from the feeding area in a manner which the pole cannot achieve with big roach due to the soft mouth/elastic strength dilemma. Its next appearance indicated a flash of red fin and as I netted the fish it was clear this was the first pound-plus roach since mid-December! Not a beauty with one side badly scarred and one showing signs of recovery but a good one all the same and, given the recent dirth of the larger examples of the species, most welcome and heart-warming at 1-2-3


Next cast, as is so often the case, produced a similar bite, a much heftier fish and a significant fight it must be said, but, bizarrely, it was soon over when the fish gasped fresh air and lost the will. A very plain yet perfectly formed bronze bream of 1-12-5

No further bites and three more closely-spaced boats brought the session to a close after just over 2 hours. The wand had ultimately been deployed with an over-large piece of crust anchored to the bottom immediately right of the mash feed while the float was dropped to the left and down-tow of the feed. The idea being that if I am indeed ever to beat the 1-4-12 canal roach PB this might just be the way, although it sat motionless on the day

Species list:
Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Black-headed gull, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Mallard, Moorhen, Roach, Bronze bream


  1. Hooray, the roach are back, Where did they go?

  2. I didn't go where I suspected they might be due to worries about it being too coloured but snared one on the rush bed anyway, it was probably a straggler but at least it broke the three month lull