Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monster Roach on the Bristol Avon

Big Roach are perhaps considered the hardest of all species to catch, and by big Roach, I mean anything over the 2lb barrier, and the Bristol Avon is no exception!

I know several very good anglers who have never caught a Roach over 2lb from the BA and not for the want of trying. One guy I know spend several weeks in a row after the species resulting in a few near to the 2lb mark but not quite making it.

One venue, very close to where I live happens to contain this very rare species, one shoal I know of contains perhaps 6-8 2lb + roach and two of them more like 3lb!!! These really are monsters, legendary fish that we hear of but are seen once in a lifetime.

Now last season (2010-2011) resulted in 13 roach all over 1lb, these were all caught on a rather suprising choice of bait... Halibut Pellet. This went on from June through to September, after this the Roach on this stretch seem to become invisble, completely dissappearing from sight until the following June. As it happens, this season started for me in July as unfortunatley I had to miss it whilst on Holiday in Florida... I have a hard life don't I ; )

The season started for me on a high, two casts and two wonderful fish. A 7lb 9oz Barbel and 5lb 4oz Chub in consecutive casts on the same Halibut pellet!!!

Not a bad start by all acounts, in fact the Chub became a new PB for me so I was over the moon!!! I continued to fish for the following couple of weeks somewhat sporadically catching Barbel and Chub to to 7lb+ and 4lb+ accordingly. I wasn't prepared for the fish I was about to catch however, smashing my PB and catching a fish I never thought possible in my wildest dreams.

It was my girlfriend Mandy that persuaded me to head to my local river, July 9th 2011 to be precise, a lovely summers day without a cloud in the sky. I packed the car with all the neccessities, rod kitted up, landing net, food and drink, and my camera - just in case...

I began fishing one of my usual swims, the same swim that I had caught the Barbel and Chub mentioned earlier. I set up, cast out my bait just under an over hanging tree and then chucked a couple of free offerings on top of it; 30 minutes went by and I had a wrap around. After a short but spirited fight I scooped out an impressive Chub, perhaps 4lb. As lovely as these fish are to see, they in all honesty destroy the swim for up to a couple of hours with their thrashing so it was time to move on.

I had scaled my tactics down, lighter line, a very small ledger weight and a small halibut pellet. I was after a Roach, one of the big ones that I had spotted right at the beginning of the season. I began by trying a swim just before where they reside, hoping that trickling in a few micro pellets would pull the bigger ones upstream and away from the smaller "nuisance" fish. After an hour I started getting anxious, I started questioning whether I was in the right swim. My girlfriend Mandy made the decision for me, "if it doesn't feel right then it it probably isn't right, move swim". I followed her "expert" advice and moved swims with immediate effect.

The swim I moved to wasn't known for producing remarkable Roach, but in all honesty the entire stretch wasn't, it seemed like I had this shoal of monsters to myself and I couldn't wait to catch one!!! I once again cast out, a light under hand cast to my left using the world famous Wallis Cast with my beautiful Allcocks Aerial. As the bait went in a couple more offerings were chucked around it in the hope of pulling in a couple of the members of the Monster Roach Shoal. It must only have been 20 minutes of the bait going in the water that I got a twitch on the end of my fishing rod, it changed from a twitch to a tug and all too soon a wrap around. Now for a Roach to take a rod round would for one be rare but two perhaps suggest it may be one of the Monsters (or a nuisance Barbel/Chub). I struck and felt resistance, a nice steady resistance, then a tell tale roach tug, juttering (is this a word?) through the water, it was then that I caught a glimpse of her. I said to Mandy WOW. This is the fish I have been after since I was a little boy, I was attached to a 2lb Roach. It was then that I backed off. The clutch was off and the fish would be given the freedom to tire itself out. I wasn't going to loose this through a hook pull as big Roach are synonymous for doing, often at the net!!!

It slowly tired itself, Mandy passed me the net which was now rested in the water. It slid over the net beautifully. I just shouted "YES, I have done it!!!" Although Mandy was no angler, she could understand my passion for specimen hunting and she was as happy for me as a girlfriend that gets dragged along to fishing can be...

Scales were readied and the net was zeroed for the weighing of this beautiful fish. I lifted and the scales settled on 2lb 5oz, a new PB and 3/4lb  bigger than my previous PB. I was a lucky man and I had my girlfriend to share my joy with. She took some wonderful pictures for me which were published in the Angling Times the following week:

A proud moment for me and I recently found out that this Roach was one of the biggest Roach to come from the stretch in question on the Bristol Avon and perhaps the biggest! So my advice that I would give to you is to try something a bit different. Pellets are very often overlooked for smaller species such as Roach but they have aquired a taste for such baits as they are used consistantly day in and day out for the larger resident species such as Chub and Barbel. As long as baits and tackle are scaled down and the your bait is well presented there is no reason why you can't do the same as me. Now for the 3lber...

Tight Lines!!! 

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