“Lets twist again like we did last summer”….yes I can see them now; twisting and jiving every time they’re hooked. The best rock and roll group in the lake! Yes, anyway back to reality.
The unseasonably high temperatures of a few weeks ago have given way to a cold wind, freezing temperatures, hail and even sleet. A glimpse of a cold, biting winter’s last grasp perhaps. I’ve been targeting roach at Tricklebrook Fishery, a 4 acre lake nestled in the heart of Kent’s magnificent countryside. The lake is primarily a carp water but contains a huge head of pristine roach, which average a really good size and run to well over 2lbs. These fish are plump, feisty and truly spectacular.
The downside I guess is the sheer numbers of roach that inhabit this lake. I’ve been using a number of baits to try and identify what works best here. Hemp and caster will catch you dozens upon dozens of immaculate roach in the 4oz-1lb bracket. Hemp and sweetcorn keeps away the really small Rudd that inhabit this lake and does seem to sort out a better stamp of roach. Using small balls of the Pallatrax Bloodworm and maggot crush groundbait and flavouring the caters and sweetcorn with some winter almond also gives me some extra confidence and is at least a little different from the norm.
I like to use a fine tipped antenna Drennan float, shotted down so just the tip is showing. Sometimes if it’s really windy you have to forgo the delicacy of presentation so you can still see the tip, so no point in over doing it. Although these roach are lightly fished for they can give unbelievably delicate bites sometimes. Try and go as delicate as conditions allow. I match this with 2 outfits. Firstly my Drennan Matchpro Ultralight, 3lb Drennan Supplex mono, 5BB antenna float and a size 18 or 16 Drennan Silverfish Hook to Nylon. The second outfit is a Maver Reactorlite 13ft match rod, 4lb mainline, 5BB Antenna float and the same hooks-to-nylon. I set one rod up to fish the margins and the other for fishing the deeper areas. This means I can swap around without having to keep plumbing and altering the setting of the depth.
When using hemp and casters it can really be quite intense fishing. You have to keep the hemp going in constantly. This gets the fish into a feeding frenzy and a good angler could quite easily put together a 50lb bag of quality roach. I’m not that focused but still manage up to probably 30lbs. I actually prefer sweetcorn as a hook bait. It seems to sort out the better fish. I combine this with groundbait and loose fed hemp. Just keep the bait going in and the bites are never far away. I’m far from an expert at this type of fishing and take whatever advice I can get. Kevin seems more at home with this style and has taken some good catches of roach from Mote Park.
So far we have caught a number of nice roach over the 1lb mark and up to 1lb 5oz. The bigger specimens seemed to have eluded us so far. Kevin had a rather unfortunate incident and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with you. He landed a very big roach. I was just up from him and saw it in the landing net and was very surprised when he said it was a roach, due to the size of the fish. It looked enormous. His legs turned to jelly and he immediately rested the fish in the net whilst he sorted out the scales. The net rested on the platform and the lip of the net was raised out of the water by several inches. As he grabbed a bag and scales we all heard a splosh. The fish had jumped out of the net and back into the lake. It was the Harry Houdini of the roach world. Kevin was gutted. I think we all suspected the roach was comfortably over 2lbs. Geoff’s best roach is 2lb 4oz and he thought Kev’s looked bigger. Sometimes roach do look bigger than they weigh, however I know both Geoff and I were gutted for Kevin, although not as much a Kev was I’m sure.
My biggest surprise was a recent capture. On hooking this fish I was sure for just a few seconds I’d hooked the roach I’d been after. It didn’t take too long to realise this fish wasn’t fighting like a roach and soon a back broke surface to reveal the true culprit. It turned out to be a big chub. On lifting it out of the water it looked huge. It was really thick and long but seemed to have no belly at all. Still it weighed in at 4lb 10oz and is my biggest stillwater chub, so that can’t be bad.
We’ll persevere with the roach until the weather warms up and we can start to target tench and those magnificent crucians of Marsh Farm near Godalming. We just need some warm days and nights to get the water temperature up and the crucians foraging for food.