Sunday, 4 March 2012

Linch Hill roach - The stuff dreams are made of

Friday the 2nd of March to Sunday the 4th

Back to the saga of the Willow roach, if you missed my earlier sessions here they are

Linch Hill roach fishing part 1
Linch Hill roach fishing part 2
Linch Hill roach fishing part 3

Well if I wasn't feeling knackered on Wednesday night I certainly was on Thursday, a hard day digging out shrubbery following the early start had left me feeling a wreck. At the start of the week my plan had been to go down to Willow first thing on Thursday and stop until Saturday but work meant that the trip had to be delayed by 24 hours, as I sat on the sofa on Thursday night I really did consider not going at all I felt so shattered, a far too early alarm call again the next day wouldn't help things at all. But as is usually the way with my fishing I went into mission mode, got everything ready and loaded and told myself to get a grip. And then the wife asked me if the central heating should be on as the radiators were cold, oh no. I checked the thermostat, that was ok, checked the pilot light and nothing, tried relighting it and it held a low flame before going out, that was all I needed, The mrs said not to bother she'd manage without but it was on my mind by this stage and bothering me, perhaps I should just cancel the trip. I tried the pilot again every few minutes but still no joy, sat on the sofa with my mind racing a thought occured to me, I keep some tackle under the stairs in the same cupboard as the gas meter, I'd only gone and caught the lever with my rucksack and turned the supply off!

I picked my mobile up to check the time first at 2.17am, oh, got back off to sleep and picked up the phone again at 4.20am, ten minutes before the alarm was due, how does that happen so often? I shoved the phone under the duvet to dull the ringing and hopefully not wake the wife while I dozed until the dreaded noise started, having to really force myself to get a shift on. A swift brew of double dose coffee and I was on the road with a distinct dose of departure lounge syndrome, you know when you really shouldn't be awake at that hour, your heads fuzzy, stomach feels like it hasn't been fed for a month, minds in another place? I was delighted to find that yesterdays fog had returned in places and I was in and out of thick banks of the stuff throughout the ninety mile trip. As usual the morons were out even at that hour with the misconception that switching on a rear fog light means that they can drive blindly at a hundred miles an hour.

I arrived in the Linch car park at about 6.30 shortly followed by Vince Williams who was down for a day session after the roach, with the milder weather plenty of other cars were lined up and we were both hoping that Willow wasn't rammed. Onto the first bank and no one in sight, mind you there was no lake in sight either just a wall of swirling fog, so much for casting to far bank markers then. I left Vince to set up while I carried on to a swim I fished on I believe my first session and near where I had seen my only definate show of roach so far, albeit almost two months earlier. A carp angler had caught a roach from a bit further along the previous weekend so there was certainly a change in the area, in fact that fish was the first roach of the year to be caught as far as we know.

I knew exactly where I wanted to be casting in relation to the far bank but as all I got was the very odd shape of a tree or two as the mist moved it was a struggle. I got the marker rod out and found the clear area first cast, clipping it up and then walking it out along the bank so that I could do the same with the fishing rods, then took an educated guess and managed to get them out where they needed to be.

When the fog finally lifted it turned into a lovely spring day, not a breath of wind and mild, I kept the feeders going in at roughly hourly intervals and watched the odd carp crash out here and there, no sign of any roach though. When Vince came along at 5.30 to say that he was off home I was thinking that my chances were dwindling, an hour of daylight left and everyone had said that daylight was the time for bites. As the light faded so did my hope, just the opposite to when perch fishing. I was sitting behind the rods at 7pm when the middle one started bleeping, thats strange I thought, must be a bite! Ok it was a bit more frantic than that, chaotic probably describes the scene, back went the rod and I felt a weight on the end kiting slightly but not feeling heavy at all, after a few seconds whatever it was came adrift and I wound in a rig with float stop slid down to the feeder. It certainly didn't feel like a big roach so after recasting I sat mulling things over and decided that it could have been a cray or a small fish. Just then something very roach like topped right over the spot which brought more questions than answers to mind, could it have been a roach,? Oh god I might just have lost the one bite I'd been waiting for.

I got a boil in the bag curry on the go in the bivvy doorway just as a breeze got up, I persevered for a few minutes but the wind was taking all of the heat from the pan and so I dropped the door to give some shelter though I had to sit holding the flap away from the stove to stop the fabric going up in flames. Just as I decided that the food was warmed up sufficiently the middle rod gave out another flurry of beeps, the pan was picked up in one hand, cooker in the other, door pushed open with another and the last one grabbed the rod, you get the picture! Yes I was in, mind you it felt small again, I just couldn't work out what was going on, no pressure at all from the other end just a weight coming straight towards me, I didn't have the chance to think for long as just like that it swam straight into the net. I shone the torch down into the mesh, looked back up, and just stood there smiling to myself for a minute. This was a proper roach, beyond anything I had ever set eyes on, sterling silver flanks and crimson fins shone up at me from the mat as I zero'd the scales, I didn't even consider guessing what it weighed but when the Avons made it 3lb 2oz's I wasn't surprised, what a stunningly beautiful fish. I popped her into my carp landing net secured in the margins while I set up the camera equipment, back on the mat it looked even better the second time round, too big to be real. After I slipped her back and watched her glide off into the lake I picked up the phone to text a few people and then thought better of it, I just wanted to sit alone with my thoughts for a while so thats what I did, perched on the edge of my bedchair with a bowl of half warm curry and a silly grin.

Linch hill big roach
The next few hours were just a daze, I dearly felt the need for a couple of celebratory beers but I was under doctors orders to lay off while taking a course of tablets so no chance of that happening. I just sat out behind the rods in the the warm night listening to the odd roach roll out in front of me and down to my left. By 11pm my head was spinning and I really did have to get some sleep, it didn't come easily though and I reckon I must have lay there thinking for an hour before drifting off. Then I was woken by a bleep, I looked out at the rods and one bobbin was an inch or so low, then I thought that it had been like that before I went to sleep, anyway I needed a pee so got up. I was just walking back to the bivvy when the same rod bleeped again and the bobbin dropped a bit more which definately deserved a strike which was again met with the same light resistance. This fish had a little bit more spirit than the first one and pulled a little in the margins while I concentrated hard on not putting too much pressure on, the combination of a size 18 hook, 1 1/4 test rod, and 50 gram feeder with a big roach attached is a frightening thing I can assure you but all went well and in the net it went. The scales made this one 2lb 15oz's, I really was dreaming.

big gravel pit roach
I had set the alarm for 6am in order to watch for a dawn show of fish but it seemed a bit pointless now, I knew that I wouldn't be moving anywhere and I needed some sleep badly so it was gone 7.30 when I poked my nose out into daylight. A couple of blokes were just setting up further along the bank and one wandered up into the swim, "Martin Bowler is it?" he asked, I think he needed to go to Specsavers! The day passed pretty much as the Friday, keep casting the feeders, attempt to scare off the tufties when they invade and generally enjoy the sunshine.

The two blokes down for the day packed up at 5.30 and reported no action as they passed me, within a minute of them leaving the right hand rod dropped back sharply and I was into a fish. This one pulled a bit right from the start and I was a bit worried about it snagging the other lines, then it weeded up and I feared the worst but just holding the pressure on did the trick and got it moving. In the margins it battled away for quite some time until finally beaten a shiny golden flank slid across the surface into the net. When I joined the lake I had fancied the chance of a big rudd as well as the roach and my wish had just come true, 2lb 11oz's of gorgeousness lay before me.

big gravel pit rudd

Not long after I had returned that fish another rod was bleeping away, in fact this one actually started to take line from the reel making me even more cautious as I bent into it, another frantic fight followed and another rudd came to the bank, 2lb 8oz's that one and not in the greatest of conditions being riddled with leaches that I attempted to remove as best I could, what incredible fishing, I don't think I've ever seen a rudd close to a pound let alone the class of these monsters.

big rudd fishing lake
The forcast for Sunday was for rain to come in from dawn and progressively get heavier to the point of torrential, I had no intention of hanging around anyway so set the alarm for 6am and thought I'd try and catch up on some sleep by turning in early. I was just starting to doze off when the right hand rod shot off, a proper run this time with the spool spinning fast. Once I had bent into the fish it slowed down and behaved itself right up until it got above the marginal shelf where it gave me the run around for a good while, keeping my heart pounding and mind praying for a good hook hold until I envelopped it in the net. I really do believe that by that stage I was so stunned by the accumulation of events to have become almost numb, it was a huge roach, 3lb 4oz's, stunning, wonderful, amazing, huge!

roach fishing gravel pit

As you might expect I was suddenly wide awake after putting her back, I sat up for a while listening to roach rolling continuously further to my left towards the island before turning in for the night. I was awake at 4.30 and couldn't get back off, a cockerel was crowing away and the first spots of rain started to tip tap my nylon house with a warning of things to come. I decided to pack up there and then, beat the rain and get back home, something I always look forward to no matter where I've been or what I've been doing.

I was flying through the back lanes of Oxfordshire when Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson came on the radio, time for a full volume sing along at 5.30 am with a great big stupid grin on my face!


  1. Great result for a lot of effort - well earned 3lb specimens make it all worth while.

  2. Wow, congratulations Rob. Unbelieveably good fishing and determination

  3. Congratulations Rob,some simply stunning Redfins and with the effort you put in too, well deserved rewards.

  4. Congratulations on your awesome catch Rob, a two pound roach is still a dream for me never mind a three!!

  5. Well done mate! Made the blanks worthwhile. Not too late for the Drennan Cup, lol!

  6. I'm still impressed by a 1lb roach or rudd, so those fish would just seem gigantic to me.

    Well worth the effort Rob, well done.

  7. Thanks gents

    Believe me Lee they were gigantic to me too!

  8. Mindblowing!!

    When you were texting me as the action unfolded i couldnt believe what i was seeing! absolutely awesome, well done bud!

  9. Jaw hits the Floor..................... Clunk !!!

    Lost for Words ;o

  10. Well in Rob and good effort you thoroughly deserved those fish .

    I would love a roach like that from the Avon ......Just to push Jeff to the edge of the known universe!!!

    Bazal Peck