Thursday, 6 March 2014


A crisp overnight frost had turned the usually hideously wet towpath into something approaching solid ground as I made my way towards canal-sized bronze bream heaven

I hasn't revisited this area, another wide bend, since snaffling two unseasonal tench two New Years' ago

No big roach had been taken here before and I fancied a go at canal bream on the pole and bread flake

The rising field opposite would shield water from the morning sun somewhat later than more exposed areas and, knowing the sunlight immediately turns the bigger fish off, a few more minutes activity could be looked forward to than had the decision been made to fish elsewhere on a day promising blue skies

As it happened in the event a creeping thin blanket of cloud kept bright sunlight away but nevertheless there was also the likelihood of boat traffic and that would cause a similar result with a low population of good-sized fish that seem distinctly reticent to suffer daylight and disturbance

On arrival some bread was soaked before setting-up and the bottom of the far shelf was found at 10.5m where three blobs of mash were hurled across to the spot. No need to cup them as spreading it around a square metre or so is preferable when seeking big fish

Second put-in what felt like a bumped fish (crays were also present) could easily have scuppered the whole session, given that they are necessarily brief, but then genuine surprise as the orange and black cane-tipped float neatly rose out of the water and we were into a good fish, somewhat plodding and bream-like in its action

As it approached the location of the net the no6 elastic failed me somewhat and the fish, now identified as a roach well up there on the biggest canal specimens chart, bombed around under my feet until it eventually tired sufficiently to be drawn into submission

Not the tidiest of fish with a mark on one side and many discoloured scales but tipping the scales at 1-5-2 it stood seventh on the all-time FF&F canal list and the first decent canal roach for some months of course

Again the biggest fish came first and was all-but followed by one that slipped the hook just three inches from the net of around the pound. Two skimmers around 12 ounces and a half-pound hybrid came later, interspersed by a further nice roach of 0-13-11

At times the bird song was deafening with a good number of species all in full voice at the same time but only skylark was really of any interest.

The first boat predictably killed-it and, despite also feeding a line at 6m on the inside of the bend, no more bites came and the car called when the second boat appeared half an hour later (which bizarrely sounded its horn but I had found my alarm clock quite successful too and was well awake by then, the roach made sure of that!

Wednesdays are now the day as, on Doctors orders, I have to relax...what a shame, all that time by the water. So where to go in the afternoon?

The rivers were dropping and looking at the Env Ag website the Leam looked promising and I knew from now quite extensive experience on the short stretch I have fished that roach would be keenly biting there too

Wandering the whole field one accessible peg stood-out as offering the steadiest flowing least turbulent water. Precisely the sort the roach would settle into and so the usual idea of baiting numerous swims was deserted and just the one concentrated upon

Like the North Oxford Canal the River Leam in its middle reaches above Leamington  Spa is not exactly alive with fish but there are usually some better specimens to be enjoyed with a careful attitude.

A topper and centre-pin produced nothing in the first hour but then a change to a link-leger produced instant bites and a two perfect roach of 12 and 11 ounces graced the net. The larger fish are usually the only ones to provide hittable bites and so it proved as I fished-on into dark amid the barking muntjac, hooting owls and mystery unseen plops.

The session ended with four good roach but still, after two winters in their pursuit, still only the one over a pound

I am sure that a maggot approach would result in a wider catch of smaller fish but personally, until now, I have remained more interested in targeting the slightly bigger ones. This coming weekend being the last until June however tempts me to try it just to see what might be present...minnows, probably.

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