Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Soggy Situation

The Prologue.

In the F, F & F post "The Ring around the Bullseye" somebody claimed the biggest of canal roach to be 'loners'.

Whoever that was clearly didn't give the statement due consideration and must've drifted into blogging autopilot.

It can't be confirmed as a fact without aqua-vision and as such must surely be complete speculation but what ejit would write such drivel?!

What I intended but didn't put across accurately was subtley, and yet at the same time fundamentally, different to the message that Jeff Hatt, that currently idle angling idler, picked-up and ran with. The key word I actually wrote was that really big canal roach, and by this I mean those of 1lb 10ozs or more, are "...loners".

Mr Hatt took that, quite rightly, as meaning they lived alone but, equally rightly, pointed-out that roach always live in shoals and that he had himself observed small groups of truly big canal roach loosely accompanied by a few of around a pound. In my case however, with the canals I fish being murky and therefore visually impenetrable, there is no such experience to fall back on but I believe he is right and that it is unlikely that those fish will be loners in that sense. Certainly when on those rare occasions that fish fitting the category above have graced my life I have, every time, harboured a feeling that there may just be one or two more to be caught immediately thereafter.

So what did the word 'loner' mean if not that?

What I meant, but lazily failed to convey, was that they have all been loners when caught. There would be no others following them into the net. Thus the prospect of catching another appeared to be nil. That is not to say they weren't shoal fish but somehow the likelihood of catching more than one at that size was negligible probably because they would have been irretrievably spooked by their lifelong school mate's frantically sudden disappearance.

If The Boy Wonder manages to perfect his aquatic filming we might get some proof. At present it's tantalisingly close but not quite there.


Friday evening.

Having just nipped-out for the obligatory beef curries there is a shroud of autumnal sharpness shrinking over the country side. Not cold enough for frost, damp enough for fog, or sufficiently overcast for rain but, quite distinctly, autumnal.

The weather in the morning should be cloudy with the prospect of rain from 9-ish for maybe a couple of hours but with the wind turning to south-east from easterly.

This forecast confirms that the stretch of GUC I visited for the first time and took the first prize roach of the campaign from will be in ideal condition as the last two weeks before the clocks change run down.




Mild. Overcast. Still.

Up the Junction?
'Peaked early and sat ready to pierce the surface at first light and in this peg one needed to be.

A canal junction. Once it came alive it would be mayhem.

The fish knew this too.

The first half hour was more frantic than usual though, as the fish, apart from one individual prime roach (not a loner, two others primed as tackle was set-up), made desperate efforts to get caught before the tell-tale tug of the water drawn to left or right commenced.

Firstly bronze bream to 1.14 and then hybrids up to 2 pounds 6 ounces (they sure do fight!) slipped over the rim and gave up.

Somewhere in that lot is a roach of 1.4.6, taken second fish of the day
After the two biggest hybrids the action came to an abrupt halt. I fed again but then that dreaded tow started and the arrival of the first narrow boat was signalled.

What a picturesque spot this had been though. Surveyed by typical canal architecture the junction with its weeping willow and neatly trimmed verges was certainly a joy to be part of.

The Kingfisher peeped, mallards scrapped and swans hissed in search of fragments of my bread. All was normal on the cut.

Passing that rarest of canal inhabitants, an angler, as I wandered back with rain cloud confusing the horizon, I was regaled with enthusiastic tales of carp. So that's another target for the future that HonGenSec might just find appealing.



Rain forecast from 7 or 8am

It was a rush to get there and set up before it started. The cloud was thick in the direction of travel but with the orange glow of impending sun still evident to the north. I stuck with the plan to head east and as I got out of the car it started spitting.

I tried to find a suitable swim but so many moored boats sent me back to the car and onto Plan B, a plan that didn't exist until that moment.

Arriving at my peg in the cutting it was so dark as to be a literal headache to see the float and with water clarity probably a touch too deep I did wonder whether a soaking was worth it.

It was also likely that there would be no chance to move swims once camp was built.

Mash was introduced and the rain drops grew larger; enhanced and supplemented by huge drops from the over-arching tree cover. A few leaves adorned the shimmering berippled surface but by 9.30, when the downpour had peaked, autumn was confirmed as suddenly, their leaf nodes strained beyond holding by the weight of water, the branches lost grip of their life-giving attachments and began to recoil into winter.

It took a few minutes but slowly bites started and ultimately, in no rush, 5 bream, as peas in a pod, made a nice net of precisely 10lbs to the ounce.

By now the rain was so heavy as to preclude the walk back so I amused myself talking to passing dogs. Quite a collection today. Cockers & Springers, a giant Jack Russell (more of a Jonathan Russell really), mutts, mongrels and Co., but thankfully only Ollie showed any interest in the bait and by then it mattered not.


(All Grand Union Canal)


  1. Great read George. After the first frost,give me a shout and I'll come and join you. Jeff accidently rang me the other day, had a good chat on the return call, I can report he is still alive and kicking, and misses fishing, hopefully he will get a move on and get his rods out again.

  2. Yes, will do Mick

    Two thing I await...clocks changing for the extra early hour and frosts. Strange people ain't we?!

    I've been in touch with Jeff too and he does sound sorely tempted

  3. 1-15-5!!! You obviously were not feeding them quite enough bait. Hell of a canal roach though. But may I ask what scales you were using that could record with such precision?

  4. Hi JZ

    Thank you for your patronage!

    I use small digital luggage scales. They actually measure tenths of ounces so I just covert and round to nearest dram. Occasionally they get checked against a salter spring balance and always seem very accurate.