The session came about through discussion on the FISHINGmagicforum. A great deal of interest was expressed by forum contributorsin having the opportunity to catch a big roach, so it was decided totry and find a suitable venue and organise a fish-in.

Cooperman at Sway

A number of possible venues were considered including some gravelpits in the Oxford area, close to the now famous Linch Hill complex. However, Rik Belenger also identified Sway lake, a carp fishery closeto his home, as a potential candidate. Although he hadn’t fished itfor a few years he had heard that it had recently produced the oddbig roach to boilies intended for the carp. As often happens on amainly carp dominated water, these fish were largely considered a’nuisance’ by many of the carp anglers and rarely targeted.

So Sway was selected as the venue. In the end six of us committedto go, myself, Rik Belenger, Paul Williams, Goose Ganderton and PeteWebber for the whole two days with Mark Tullett joining us for theMonday evening and all day Tuesday.

We had all arrived by 7:00am and went for a wander along the bank. A couple of carp anglers were waking from their slumbers and wequizzed them on the roach. “Yes”, was the reply “the damn thingshave been bleeping the alarms all night.” That was enough for us, wewanted to get fishing.

Cooperman and his 1.12

We had discussed tactics and, following Rik’s discussion with thebailiff, most of us settled on a waggler and maggot approach fordaylight and intended to put out mini fishmeal boilies overnight.

Having selected swims we got down to business. This is where Ipersonally started to get lucky. It’s funny how a couple of turns ofevents can make or break a session and I realise now how lucky I wasto end up in the right place at the right time. I had originallythought about fishing a swim furthest from the car park at the deeperend of the lake. Brummie Williams also fancied it plus Pete frommemory, so we drew straws. Brummie won it. Rik offered to ‘doubleup’ with Brummie in a likely looking swim at the shallower end of thelake but Brummie turned him down, preferring to stick to his selectedpeg. I said to Rik I wouldn’t mind sharing the end peg with him asit looked pretty good. Rik agreed and part two of the luck storykicked in.

Cooperman – 1.11

“Which side do want?” Rik asked. Knowing that if I fished theleft side of the peg I would probably rip Rik’s ear off at some pointin the day with my less than adequate casting ability, I said “Right”. What a decision that turned out to be! Read on to find outwhy.

The plan was to start on waggler and maggot, loose feeding acentral area so as not to split up any feeding fish, with each of usfishing to either edge of the feed. Rik set up first and plumbedthe depth. It was about four feet. Being a lazy sod I measured hisdepth on my rod and set mine up the same. We started fishing.

Rik started getting bites almost immediately. I also had a fewsmall roach, but Rik was getting far more bites than me resulting ina number of small fish and a couple of eels. This struck me asstrange and I said so to Rik and wondered what was different betweenus as our floats were only a few feet apart. On his accusation thatI was a lazy good for nothing for not finally checking my own depth, Iplumbed up my side accurately. I discovered that I was fishing inwater several inches deeper than Rik’s side of the swim only a fewfeet to the left, and my bait must have been just off the bottom. There was a drop off between us, only a few inches, but verydistinct. Consequently I moved the float up and, to coin a phrase,the rest is history. My bite rate went up straight away and at10:15am I connected with a good roach.

1.15 1/2 – nearly there!

It was obviously one of the ones we were after so I played itcarefully and Rik slid the net under a pristine silver roach of 1lb12oz.

Not too long after and yours truly is into a second, this time 1lb11oz. Rik is getting pestered by small stuff on the left side of theswim. Then I’m into a third, and this one looks like it has to bethe magic ‘two’. But no, it pulls up short at 1lb 151/2 oz. Still a cracking fish though. Rik and the others say ‘well done’ (Ithink that’s what “spawny git” means). With three good fish on thebank already I would have been happy if I didn’t get any more, butlittle did I know the best was yet to come.

Rik’s mobile rings and it’s Paul Williams from the far end of thelake. He’s landed a biggy so we wander down to witness the weighingand get a photograph. The scales pull round to exactly 2lb. Thefirst ‘two’ to Brummie!

Paul ‘Brummie’ Williams – The first ‘2’

Back to our swim and I’m in again. This one is a corker so I playit carefully and Rik nets it. Goose Ganderton holds the scales as weset the weigh sling and, seeing the disbelief on my face, thinks it’ssmaller than we expected. “What’s the matter, isn’t it 2lb?” Heasks. “No, it’s 2lb 11oz” I reply, immediately turning from somesort of sane individual into a demented idiot! I couldn’t believeit. Having not had a roach over 11/2 lb before in my life I hadnow broken my personal best 4 times in a day and got my first “two”in the shape of this monster. To say I was chuffed to bits was anunderstatement.

Rik is still to connect with anything decent, but suddenly is into a good size fish. Thinking that he has broken his duck, he isactually pretty disappointed when his ‘roach’ breaks surface and turns out to be a 2lb plus tench. I rub salt into his wound bygetting an estimated 1lb 8oz roach that we didn’t even weigh properlyor photograph. I must have been getting blas