Another handsome beast!Roach Obsession Diary. 6.30 pm 5/2/2021
Sorry for my silence of late. So many reasons. Working on two major roach pieces for FM. Moving river. Still not back to my best.
Apologies done with, Robbie and I met up on the Bure this afternoon to fish the stretch I had been baiting for six days. We’d looked at the forecast, and knew we had 36 hours or less before a temperature collapse.
I’m not going to spoil Robbie Northman’s thunder - he caught the fish and it will feature on his social media, but I can reveal we caught this chub of 7.10, witnessed by Enoka, who had done a good bit of the baiting on my down days.
Then, almost as excitingly, both of us missed pulls that had, just HAD to have been from roach. If I’m well, tomorrow I might just squeeze in a float session before the snow comes.
Bloody hell. Zipping around with a song in my heart. How old am I, I wonder??? On a top day like this, it might be 1971 all over again!
Much more from me to come!
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Robbie Northman and Enoka
John, thanks for these diaries-quality reading as ever. Would you have swapped your monster chub for a two pound roach? (I think I know the answer to that)Roach Obsession Diary. 4.30pm 16/2/2021
Oh dear. Still light. 9 degrees and little wind. The fresh, fragile feel of Spring. But a river gushing with snow melt and filling the fields again. Seven more days to go for me at the Wensum farm here, and then the trip West and Wyewards. Will I get in anything like a sensible session or two, or is that just about the finale, has that dear fat lady cleared her throat, and is she about to burst into song? Do you know, looking back to when this plan was hatched, I felt deep down I’d leave with at least one serious roach under my proverbial belt. I knew how hard the stretch would be, of course, and I didn’t quite anticipate the weather’s hostility, but I expected my reward. I feel I might have gone out on a low, but nonetheless I have learned lessons. You can’t simply batter a venue with bait and expect wild fish to capitulate. A burning desire is good, but not good enough to conquer all fishing situations, especially when verging on the impossible.
And perhaps, above all, I’ve appreciated the whole thrust of that modern mantra - biodiversity. I’ve had to accept that there is so much wrong with the river valley as a whole, it is unrealistic to expect roach to have miraculously survived, when virtually everything else has succumbed. I still believe that a sticking plaster would work: if I could stock a quarter of a million roach and then protect them for ten years, I feel sure I’d have roach back here in numbers and sizes to equal the glory days. But that will never happen. Until we see owls back, and skylarks and lapwings and all the rest, it is verging on the impossible that roach will magic themselves back into existence.
I’m really looking forward now. I’ve never had a Wye two pound roach, and I don’t know where to start. If anyone reads this plea and has a kind heart, I am certainly here to be helped.
Glad you enjoyed it, John. My cameraman and I are on a mission to create great videos but it's a long learning curve, not helped by being restricted in where we can go. I have a lots of camera and audio gear that will be put to good use when life is less restricted (travelling very light at present as I have to carry all the gear), in the meantime the apprenticeship continues.Roach Obsession Diary. 12.00pm 19/2/2021
Have just watched Mark Wintle’s film of a Stour session, filmed a few days ago. What a ten-minute escape Mark, thank you. What a peach of a swim. What lovely fish. What an inspiration to get out there. I EVEN liked and signed up, something that took me half the morning, but so great was my enthusiasm, how could I surrender and accept defeat?
A few thoughts. Not for forty years have I been able to settle onto an upper river swim in Norfolk and build it up like this, confident that fish would respond and that a big one might well come to the net. Just exquisite fishing. Nice to see a Mitchell doing its stuff, and more evidence that I lag behind by not using punch as often as I should.
Interesting that this was a bridge swim. What decent roach fishing that has come my way this century has been within the sound and sight of traffic. I struggle to think of any explanation but that of cormorant reluctance and dislike of human activity. We all know bridges historically have been hotspots but not, I think, to the degree they are today. Certainly in my world. And, of course, most of the decent roach we saw up close bore evidence of cormorant attacks. Cormorant avoidance must be the biggest issue in the lives of these fish today.
I was struck by Mark’s close analysis of water levels and the part they play. I, like all roach anglers, have been acutely aware of them since 1970 and have come to realise that on the Wensum they are more volatile year on year. This winter, they have been up and down like a fiddler’s elbow (I can never resist that one). I know the weather has been erratic, but so has it been in my long memory without creating dizzying conditions like these. The modern automatic sluice gates I think... these really are never still and constantly changing flow regimes. The change from Spring to Autumn ploughing? Certainly, on my walks, the run-off from every field has been spectacular... and God knows what concoctions of chemical end up in the river.
Perhaps the Wandle really has it all? Not a blade of grass near it. The growl of humanity 24/7. Perfect roach sanctuary 2021.