Thursday, 26 January 2012

Linch Hill roach fishing - The lucky 13th?

Friday the 13th to Sunday the 15th of January

What a difference a week had made to the weather, high winds and double figure temperatures had been replaced by the first frost for weeks and as I pulled into the Linch Hill car park at 6.30am I was greated by several deep frozen vehicles, obviously anglers that preffered the deep freeze to the wind tunnel as I was all alone last visit. Ten minutes later and I was on the banks of Willow expecting to find several anglers present, I passed one bivvy in the swim that I had started in last week and recognised the set up as belonging to Vince who I knew would be fishing, leaving the barrow a couple of swims further down my plan was to watch and listen for any signs of roach before settling on an area and so I slowly wandered around the lake in the half light, pausing now and then for a while at points offering a good view. By the time I was opposite Vince it was obvious that there were no other anglers on the lake which was a nice surprise, presumably the cars belonged to anglers fishing Christchurch. Several laps later and having established that Vince had neither caught or seen anything it was time to make a decision, my best guess was to start at the end where I had seen a show on Saturday and so I plumped for the only swim on the end bank which gave me a view of the vast majority of the lake.
An hours work with the marker rod showed a similiar picture to that found in the other swims I had fished, mostly weed and a very few small clear areas though I did find a slightly bigger spot that was perfectly clear and just happened to line up almost perfectly with where the fish had shown last week, probably not a coincidence I thought. That mark could accomodate two rods and while looking for something else suitable a fish rolled not too far out and down to my left, that put me in a bit of a catch 22 situation, I'm not keen on casting a noisy marker at showing fish but then again it would be a brave man that played the chuck and chance game on this water and so I bit the bullet and cast well past the show and drew the float back across the area, weed, not very thick but not good enough. With nothing tom,lose now I had to check out exacrtly what was around down there and a few more casts found some quite silty ground with odd bits of blanket weed, I even got the tap tap of gravel on one cast but only for a very short distance and I couldn't get back on to it again, with nothing else particularly interesting elsewhere in front of me I decided to plump for the silt. If you normally feature find by pulling the rod back to one side feeling for bottom texture try tightening down to the rig and then point the rod directly at it, take the braid in your left hand and slowly pull back, you'll be amazed at how much more you can feel by being in direct contact with the line, I'm making no claim on this one it's all down to my mate Neil, very simple but very useful, a bit like Neil!

A view of most of the lake

With the important bit sorted it was time to get the bank house set up, I'd had a bit of bother with my bivvy last week in that three of the four poles had split, not good seeing as it had only been used maybe four times, fortunately I had kept hold of my old one which funnily enough was the original version from the same manufacturer and had been good as gold for six years. Trouble is I'd managed to forget to pack the infil panel, the saving grace being I did have a winter skin though it left a bit of a gap around the front and within an hour of setting up and getting everything organised a brisk northerley wind sprung up straight into my face. I stuck that for half an hour before I came the conclusion that I had to move the bivvy, it was absolutely bitter. Its incredibly what a difference wind chill can make isn't it, I fished through the very worst of last winter in temperatures below minus ten and was fine, when it finally warmed up I made the mistake of not dressing so well and went out in two degrees with a breeze, I think I lasted an hour.

The day passed without event, I was recasting the feeders hourly and was interested in just how quickly they were emptying so dropped a spare one in the edge to check, surprisingly all of the maggots had worked their way out within five minutes though an hour later they hadn't spread out much further than eight inches which would leave a perfect little patch of bait around my rig, Even more surprising was the fact that there was still a good few grubs in the same area the next morning. The overnight forcast was for minus one but by 6pm it was obvious that it was around that already and it was going to be a good one, I filled the kettle up before I turned in expecting the water to be frozen by morning but it didn't quite get to that, it went down to minus five still and just to stick a cherry on top we had a lovely dose of freezing fog from dawn until 10.30. It really wasn't pleasant all all I was getting into the sleeping bag between casts and when the sun finally broke through it quickly dawned on me that I wasn't going to see a bit of it in my swim which soon persuaded me to have a look elsewhere, a poor show really! Another spot that I'd been told about was looking positively tropical and a few casts with the marker showed that it was fishable so it was back to my winter wonderland with the delightful prospect of packing up a load of icy kit.

 The new swim was a short cast towards the lakes island, not perfectly clear as there were odd bits of silk weed and it was a little bit silty, but it was lovely and sunny, I really am starting to become a bad angler! The rest of the afternoon passed in the now expected way and with dusk came another sharp drop in temperature, there isn't much light pollution in the area and the clear night sky was incredible, I can't remember seeing the stars so clearly since I was in Australia and so stood outside admiring the view for a phile before turning in for the night. I was recasting the frosty rods again from dawn after having a very brief spell of excitement during the night when one of the rods gave a sharp dropback, as soon as I was out of the bivvy I knew that it was down to a gang of tufties splashing right over the rod but for a split second it was action stations. The day passed with the usual routine of casting the feeders and watching the water without seeing a thing except a grebe catching a small fish which I suppose I could class as a positive! It was apparent that the grebes and occasionally a cormorant were spending a lot of time working on particular area and I thought I would earmark that one for my next visit.

Spare me a maggot Mr?
 Soon enough it was time to make a break and I was ready for home to be honest, the last afternoon had been pleasant sitting in the sun but there was nothing pleasant about the first day and a half of endurance angling, one day I'll take up a sensible pastime. Before I left I had a good look around in the swim where the birds had been active and found that the majority of it was very clear which was a first and made it a definate starting point for my next trip, incredibly even though there was cat ice in the margins there was a group of carp right in the edge and looking quite active, perhaps I should change species!


  1. My god you have had some bad weather and a hard time fishing Rob, But it was worth it just for the picture with the Robbin, I have only seen one this season and that was at Anglezark,
    Great read and pictures,

  2. Hello mate
    There's no shortage of wildlife down there mate so at least there's something to keep me entertained while I'm plugging away

  3. Why not try a lobworm on one rod Rob, stillwater roach love them and that lake has seen so many maggot feeders down the years that a change of bait can't be a bad thing seeing as probably all the residents have been caught on maggots once, twice, thrice. In my experience roach wise up just as quickly as carp do.

    In my experience a big worm, six or even eight inches long is no problem for a roach of even a pound in weight. My PB just under two was caught on an eight incher in temperatures well below those you were fishing in with snow all around and ice covering the water.

    The only bait that the big roach of Hornsea Mere (in its heyday) would touch was lobworm, and the once British record was caught on one. Its got to be worth a try if you are going to spend so long waiting after a very big fish, don't you think?

  4. Morning Jeff
    Yes they'll have a worm alright I've no doubts about that one though as far as we know there have been two roach caught this winter both well before xmas so they've probably forgot what a maggot looks like by now! To be honest the general consensus is that there just aren't many left in there, the days of big hauls of fish are long gone and realistically I know I'm fishing for one bite and that any more would be something very special. To me its all down to finding them which is why at the moment I'm covering some ground swim wise, I've got faith in the method I'm sure I can catch them when, or if, I get on them.

    Give it another month of blanks and I'll be eating my (Jeff!) hat and digging the garden with great enthusiasm!

  5. I'm going to a lake that produces three pounders in a few weeks time. I honesty don't know how to approach it as the session will be fairly short but will take worms along mostly because this winter I have been picking up a lot of roach on a local lake whilst fishing for perch. They aren't big but they love the worms and its when they are around that the perch finally move in.

    Then again the canal roach won't even look at a worm this winter, which is unusual because the previous two winters it was a certainty that one or two would come along. The weather is clearly not cold enough for them! They do like the ice...

    What are the current catches like? Are they old looking fish? It's odd reading about a lake where only two roach have 'come out this winter' ! I know exactly how that feels! It feels like a canal...

    Punishing, but the rewards are still probably in there, I'm sure, so stick it out Rob. There's one with your name on it.

  6. No fear mate I'm keeping at it, this is my first season on there and so I've yet to see a fish in the flesh, the pictures of roach I saw caught last winter still looked in good condition though they are obviously getting long in the tooth. From what I understand one chap had 6 roach last winter, 4 of which came in about 24 hours, and he had done a long blank spell before hand, I don't know numbers without looking back at his blog but well into double figures of blanks, all of those 6 were 3lb+, doesn't give a great deal of confidence in there being many back up fish left does it?

    They've had a lot to contend with apart from old age, 2007 it flooded and they reckon thats when signal crays arrived (more about that in my next blog, the cormorants have been at them in numbers I'm told, only seeing the odd one now which from experience means there isn't the stock to support them, and to cap it off otters are regular visitors.

    Good numbers of fry have been seen this year so maybe things will come full circle and lets hope so, but as it stands as a big fish water at the moment you have to conclude that its quite possibly nearing the end of its time.

  7. Perhaps, but keep in mind that Chris Yates caught his record carp probably after people thought Redmire's potential had peaked. You never know!

    You'll need something to keep your spirits up during those long cold nights!

    Good luck

  8. The one I wants still there, one bite will be quite enough! In fact if I catch a roach from there and it isn't a pb it will be something of a miracle

    Good luck to you on your 3lber water too, not many of those around is there